Cuyahoga County Reports Increased Demand, Backlog In Covid Test Results

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A University Hospitals health care worker demonstrates how new testing booths will be used to administer COVID-19 tests. [Matthew Richmond / ideastream]
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The Thanksgiving holiday and concern about the spread of Covid-19 is contributing to increasing demand for testing and a backlog in results across the state and in Cuyahoga County.

Romona Brazile, co-director of the county's testing program with MetroHealth, said Wednesday that it's taking longer to get results back from testing labs.

“It just makes it more difficult to follow up with the case, get the case’s information, get the contacts’ information, follow up with the contacts,” Brazile said.

Brazile says delays of three or four days are becoming a problem, and the county recently received back test results that are a week or even two weeks old.

Hospitals in Cuyahoga County reported more than 37,000 COVID tests the week ending November 14th.

Hospitals, the county, pharmacies and sometimes the state’s department of health all offer testing in Cuyahoga County. The supply shortages that characterized the early days of the pandemic are no longer a problem locally and, according to Brazile, if someone wants a test, they should be able to find one at one of the testing locations the same day.

There is concern among infectious disease experts that the coming Thanksgiving holiday will help spread the disease, as people travel to visit family. According to Brazile, any increase in cases won’t be known until sometime in December.

The county saw a rise in cases shortly after Halloween, attributed to parties among friends. Thanksgiving poses more of a risk because it usually includes older relatives.

Brazile cautioned against using a recent negative coronavirus test as a reason to feel safe about visiting family over Thanksgiving.

“We’re not advocating that people do that – to think that they’re OK,” Brazile said. “Because they could be tested too early in the course of illness to get a positive test result. That could happen later. And they get this false security.”

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