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Delayed results at Sarasota-Manatee testing site, state is making improvements

Coronavirus

SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Over the past two weeks, 7,877 people have been tested for COVID-19 at the state-run drive-thru testing site on the Sarasota-Manatee county line. The site opened on May 3.

Officials told people who were tested to expect their results in 2-5 days, but some say that time frame isn’t accurate.

Multiple people reached out to 8 On Your Side for help after making multiple calls to get their results with no luck. Some who reached out to us were tested on Monday, May 4 and hadn’t received their results as of Friday, May 15.

Maryann Esdale and her husband got tested at the state-run site on May 6. Esdale said she wanted to be sure she didn’t have the virus before visiting her grandchildren.

“I didn’t want to go without being tested, but it just took so long to get the results back, so the plans fell through,” said Esdale.

After waiting five business days for her results, she made several calls to two numbers provided to her the day she was tested.

“I called the number and I got a fast busy signal. I also called a phone number for the lab. When I called them, they had a recording saying we have to call the provider number and that they wouldn’t give out test information,” said Esdale.

Esdale says she finally got through without a busy signal Friday morning and received her negative test results.

She wants state leaders to know their testing system needs some work.

“If the government says it is fast, we expect that. A lot of people are depending on these results to go back to work and stuff like that so I want them to realize that they might need to hire more people or find a better process of getting the results out,” said Esdale.

A local nurse who asked not to be identified told 8 On Your Side she continues having trouble getting her test results back. She feels the delay almost defeats the purpose of getting tested in the first place.

“The system is flawed. A lot of people are going to die needlessly because the system is very flawed. They do not have the resources to get the results of people that need it,” said the nurse. “There are resources available to get more done. It’s always a policy thing, it’s always a political thing where we can’t get the resources that we need to in healthcare.. especially now, because people are sick and dying. There needs to be something done because this is not good and it is going to get far worse,” she continued.

8 On Your Side contacted the Florida Division of Emergency Management Friday regarding the delays.

A spokesperson sent us this statement:

In the past two weeks, the state has increased testing at drive-thru sites across the state. Since May 1, we have opened sites in Sarasota, Lee, Santa Rosa, Miami-Dade, Escambia, Broward, Brevard and Volusia counties. In total, these sites allow the state to perform more than 4,000 additional tests per day.

Every day, these sites send their samples to commercial labs for testing. These tests are performed as quickly as possible, and often are available within 72 hours of being received by the lab. Once the lab results are available, individuals are contacted as quickly as possible, with priority being placed on anyone who tested positive.

In order to expedite the confirmation of results, the state has expanded the capacity to contact individuals who are tested at these sites.

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