Coronavirus in Pa.: This is why WellSpan COVID-19 test results are delayed

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WellSpan Vice President and Regional Medical Director Mark Goedecker addresses COVID-19 testing started at the York Fairgrounds. York Daily Record

Coronavirus testing is ramping up across the state, but patients at WellSpan Health are experiencing delays in getting their COVID-19 results. 

WellSpan has been testing patients for the past two weeks, using a national laboratory as its primary testing partner, according to spokeswoman Julie Kupchella.

She did not name the lab, and WellSpan has repeatedly declined to say how many patients were being tested for coronavirus at its facilities throughout the region. 

“We had originally expected results within three to four days, but our national lab partner has experienced reporting delays due to a significant increase in test volumes from across the country. We are working with our lab partner to resolve these issues and now expect results within seven to 10 days of patients being tested,” Kupchella said.

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WellSpan is looking for alternative sources of testing as they become available, she said. 

Other healthcare systems in Pennsylvania, such as Penn Medicine, Penn State Health and UPMC, said it is taking about three to four days to get results. 

As of Friday afternoon, Pennsylvania had 2,218 positive cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. Hospitalizations grew from 21 to 170 in the last week, with 32 patients needing ventilators, according to the state Department of Health.

Testing delays have also been reported in other areas of the country, as medical systems grapple with a shortage of specialized, nasal testing swabs. 

The main manufacturer of the swabs, Copan, is based in Northern Italy, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, according to the New York Times. Copan has ramped up manufacturing to deal with the demand, the report said

Another swab manufacturer, Maine-based Puritan Medical Products, has been working to meet demand even as its workforce has been affected by the spread of the virus, spokesperson Timothy Templet told Kaiser Health News. The company is producing between 800,000 and a million swabs a week for COVID-19 testing, he said.

Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

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