Nursing homes wait up to 5 days for COVID-19 test results

Short wait times for nursing home results

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - New numbers show nursing homes and assisted living centers across the country are having issues with the time it takes for labs to process COVID-19 tests.

We checked in with the Alabama Nursing Home Association to see if our state is facing the same problem.

ANHA told us most Alabama nursing homes are getting results back within one to three days, which is a bit quicker than what others are seeing across the country.

The American Health Care Association and National Center For Assisted Living show about one out of every four facilities is reporting a 5 days or more wait time for results.

ANHA said knowledge of a positive case is crucial when trying to limit a full on outbreak, and the quicker the turnaround time, the better.

"We've found that many of them are using multiple labs. They may be using multiple labs at the same time. Or they may be working with one lab and then that lab's response time starts to slow down. So they switch to the other lab, which will have a quicker response time," said ANHA spokesperson John Matson. "By in large, our members are figuring out what creative ways to make sure they're able to get lab results back in a timely manner."

Matson also said more of their nursing homes that have had small to large outbreaks are now COVID-free.

He said it will be a while before visitation policies and restrictions are loosened, as they continue to work to prevent the spread of the virus.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.