Labs struggle to turn around Louisiana coronavirus tests

Louisiana’s coronavirus testing has hit another hurdle with the turnaround time on getting results. Early in the pandemic, there was a lack of nasal swabs to conduct tests, but now Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Alex Billioux says the problem is with some labs struggling with the supply chain for materials needed to get results.

"What we are doing to try to manage that is really advocate strongly with the federal government to get more reagents to us, " said Billioux, "and then to shuttle the specimens around the state to those labs that have shorter turnaround times."

Billioux says the timeliness in getting a result makes the difference in having data useful for stopping the spread versus just adding numbers to the stats.

"We need three days, to get results, or better," said Billioux. "Where we are seeing five to seven days, that’s really challenging."

"Ten to fourteen days is probably not useful," Billioux added.

Billioux says the strain put on the state’s testing capabilities could soon have an impact on who is eligible to be swabbed at community testing sites.

"If you have no symptoms, you had no contact with anybody who has ever had COVID, or even recently had COVID, we are probably going to start turning you away from our community-based testing sites," said Billioux.