Federal, state, and local health officials have urged Americans to alter their winter holiday traditions by limiting exposure to friends and family they don’t typically spend time with, in order to keep a lid on the burgeoning COVID-19 case load across the country. Many will take that advice, but others hope to strike a safe balance by getting tested for the virus and following through on gatherings (assuming they test negative, of course). The issue with that—which you should tell patients who want to be tested in your urgent care facility—is that testing labs are already getting slammed with tests and are seeing days-long delays in responding with results. PhysicianOne Urgent Care in Massachusetts, for one, has found that labs that had been turning tests around in a day or two are now taking twice that amount of time. As the volume increases, it’s likely that the turnaround time will keep doing the same. If patients tell you that they do plan to attend crowded events, keep recommending that they wear masks and continue with sound hygiene practices. It would also be advisable for individuals to establish their own contact-tracing networks, so people who spend time together can keep each other informed in case anyone falls ill.
Be Warned—and Tell Patients: Holidays Are Causing Delays in COVID-19 Test Processing