Aimee Cho

DC Seeing Up to 7-Day Wait for COVID-19 Test Results Amid Increased Demand

A quicker turnaround time really matters if someone is infected. “You’re shortening as best you can the window of opportunity for when an individual is positive, may come into contact with others and potentially infect them"

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If you get tested for the coronavirus at a public site in D.C., you now may have to wait as long as seven days to get your results.

The estimated wait time in D.C. was three to five days. It’s now five to seven days, officials said Thursday. 

The wait is now longer because more people are getting tested across the United States and D.C. uses the same labs as other states, said Chris Geldart, operations chief for the city’s response to the virus. 

“As more and more states are coming on board and more and more testing is happening throughout the country, that turnaround time is now getting extended,” he said. 

D.C. conducts about 2,000 tests a day at firehouses and other locations, six days a week. The city is now looking at how to expand lab capacity to reduce the wait time. 

For comparison, the wait time for test results in Arlington also is five to seven days. In Fairfax County, it’s two to three days to get results to the state health department but they couldn’t say how long it takes for patients to get results. In Montgomery County, it’s two to three days. 

A quicker turnaround time really matters if someone is infected, said Dr. Travis Gayles, the Montgomery County health officer. 

“You’re shortening as best you can the window of opportunity for when an individual is positive, may come into contact with others and potentially infect them,” he said. 

Montgomery County recently partnered with a lab in Rockville to offer swabs for people to test themselves. That means the county has more capacity for testing. 

If you get a test, it’s important that you stay home until you get your result, officials said. 

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