DHEC Statement on Delayed COVID-19 Test Results
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 7, 2022
Because of the enormous testing demand fueled by the delta and omicron surge, DHEC and other testing providers and laboratories are experiencing longer lines for individuals to get tested. We are working to reduce wait times by making home tests available and increasing the number of testing sites.
The overwhelming majority of COVID tests ― about 97% ― are processed at large, non-DHEC labs that are operating at or above capacity. DHEC's lab has a daily capacity of 2,500 samples and the Public Health Lab is operating at that capacity and currently not experiencing any delays.
DHEC has contracts with nine testing vendors across the state to perform COVID-19 testing. As part of their contracts, these vendors are to relay test results to the individuals who were tested within 48-72 hours, and if there is a consistent delay in that turnaround time, the vendors are to quickly notify DHEC.
The week of Dec. 27, 2021, South Carolina had an enormous increase in testing. Most of our contractors managed this well and maintained the 48–72-hour standard. Unfortunately, Premier Medical Laboratory, which is one of DHEC's contracted testing providers, didn't immediately notify DHEC that they were experiencing delays in providing test results. After DHEC learned this, the agency contacted Premier for more information and to work toward solutions for getting results relayed back to individuals as quickly as possible. Premier is actively working to make up for the delayed results, however we know that some individuals have still not received their test results.
Because of this, DHEC is recommending that anyone tested between Dec. 30, 2021, and Jan. 3, 2022, who has not yet received their results and is currently symptomatic to get re-tested at one of the many testing sites around the state to ensure they receive timely, valid results.
We apologize to the individuals whose results were delayed, and we are working with our vendors and community partners across the state to address the surge in testing. We also continue to strongly recommend that those individuals who are not yet vaccinated need to get their shots, because prevention by way of vaccination is key in stopping disease spread.