Coronavirus testing could take a week or more as spikes continue


ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Experts said it takes only a few hours for a lab to turnaround coronavirus results. But as the demand of testing continues in the Capital Region, it could take up to a week or more to get results.

“Many people say it’s just, like its aggravating, asking why their test results aren’t back, yet. It depends on the laboratory hits and the amount of people going through that lab,” said Albany Executive Daniel McCoy.

McCoy said 27 positive cases came overnight in Albany County. Five cases are healthcare workers. Four cases are reported from travel. Nine are reported close contacts to positive cases. Six cases are no clear source of infection at this point. Twenty-two cases are linked to the Hudson Avenue party on Independence Day. He is urging everyone to get tested.

“It really helps us with contact tracing, and it helps us going forward with how many people actually do have it,” he said.

However, the push for testing could make getting your results back longer. Three of the testing sites listed on Albany County’s website send their tests to BioReference Laborites in New Jersey. Those sites include Whitney M. Young Health, University of Albany and local Rite Aids.

Dr. Jon Cohen, executive chairman of BioReference Laboratories said:

“Since launching COVID-19 PCR testing in March, BioReference Laboratories has continued to ramp up capacity to manage the ever growing demand. In June, BioReference saw a significant uptick in PCR COVID-19 testing demand, which caused temporary delays in the turnaround time of results – an average of 6 days. Currently, BioReference has stabilized turnaround time and is delivering results in 72 hours or less from the time a sample arrives in one of our laboratories for testing. For critical patients in hospitals results are delivered in 24 hours or less.”

Dr. Jon Cohen

Dr. Cohen said it is all about logistics when it comes to coronavirus testing. It depends on when the specimen is taken, which lab it goes to, when it arrives in the lab, and which batch it goes to. Many labs often use pool testing. It is a process of testing five to 10 people at a time.

Cohen said they took part in helping with the New York State nursing home crisis. BioReference partnered with over 400 nursing homes in the state. They tested over a quarter million employees, and it caused delays in other people getting results.

Your test results will be sent by either phone, text, or through an online portal. 

In addition to Bio Reference Lab, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are also used for test results in the Capital Region. The turnaround for both of their testing ranges from a week or less.

A spokesperson from LabCorp said:

“They have performed 7.5 million molecular tests since first making our COVID-19 test available in March, and we are able to process 165,000 tests per day with plans to increase capacity further. With this additional capacity, we have reduced the average time to deliver results to 3-5 days from specimen pickup. For hospitalized patients, the average time for results is faster.”


Quest Diagnostics said, as a result of the rise of testing, their average turnaround time for reporting test results is now over two days for priority one patients compared to one day a week ago. For all other patients, the average turnaround time is seven or more days. While some patients may receive their test result in as quickly as two to three days, a small subset of patients may experience wait times of up to two weeks.

Despite the different delays on getting results back, McCoy said testing is key to avoid getting others sick.

“You should do it for your parent, your grandparents, or for that aunt or uncle that you love. It is important to make sure you’re not spreading it without knowing it,” said McCoy. 

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