Coronavirus test results now delayed up to 14 days in Florida, residents say

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As testing for the coronavirus booms, the wait time to get your results back is also spiking in Florida.  

8 On Your Side Investigates is hearing from people who’ve been stuck at home for days, including health care workers.

Initially, some Tampa Bay residents said it was taking approximately 11 or 12 days to get results. After our report aired on Monday, 8 On Your Side heard from residents who said the wait times had been extended again.

“What good is it to get the test kits if you can’t get the results to the tests?” Cindy Forbus, a registered nurse, asked.

Forbus received her test at a BayCare drive-thru site in Pinellas County on March 19.

Pasco County resident Roy Karpp has also been waiting 12 days for results.

As has nurse and mom Amy Gatlin.

“As a nurse, what’s going through your mind?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Who are we exposing?” said Gatlin. “My child was around hundreds of people at school.”

Everyone 8 On Your Side spoke with has one thing in common: they were tested at a drive-thru site and their test is being processed at a private commercial lab.

Forbus called the Quest Diagnostics to get more information about the delay.

“Why is the test specimen being sent to Virginia?” Forbus asked. “This is affecting our lives, going back to work.”

Florida only has three public health labs.

New data released by the Department of Health on Tuesday shows five out of six residents who tested positive were processed at a private lab.

State officials tell 8 On Your Side their plan now, and moving forward, is to rely heavily on private labs.

“They wanted me to test immediately like, she said get in your car now,” said 67-year-old Kayt Nelson.

Nelson has a serious underlying lung condition.

She says Quest told her don’t expect results for 14 days.

“I would love for Governor DeSantis to know that this is not just about an individual wanting their test results, this is a bigger picture,” said Gatlin. “It’s putting people’s lives at risk.”

Again, since Florida relies heavily on these private labs, we wanted to know if they were aware of these excruciating delays.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said they were looking into it.

We haven’t heard back from the governor’s office as of Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Quest Diagnostics says the company started with just one lab to process these tests. That facility was in California.

Now Quest is utilizing 12 labs, including one in Miami.

They expect test results to be returned at a much faster rate.

8 On Your Side will continue to investigate problems with testing in Florida.

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