Longer lines, wait times to get COVID-19 test results in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Long wait times to get a COVID-19 test are turning into long wait times to get results, leaving many Iowans frustrated that the longer they wait for tests and results is more time they could be spreading the virus without even knowing it.

There are different avenues people can take to get tested for COVID-19, but the feeling while they’re waiting for results seems to be similar.

“It’s nerve racking,” Amanda McCoy, of Ottumwa, said. “Like do I have it?”

“You’re on pins and needles the entire time wondering if you’re positive or not,” Lisa Starks, of Nevada, said.

The long lines show the demand for tests is increasing, and it’s the longer wait times to get results that’s worrying those getting tested.

“It was just the frustration of, you know, not being able to know that quickly,” Beth Molln, of West Des Moines, said.

Molln and her husband couldn’t find rapid tests, so they went through Test Iowa to do the PCR test at home. She said they got the test last Tuesday, sent it in on Wednesday, and got notified that the lab received it on Thursday. Her husband received results within 24 hours on Friday, but Beth didn’t find out her results until Saturday.

“Out of an abundance of caution I was staying home and not going anywhere because, you know, you don’t want to be the person that’s spreading it around unknowingly,” Molln said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says typically results come within 24 hours after the sample is received by the State Hygienic Laboratory, but due to demand that average time has now increased to 30 hours. 

“I know they’re probably overwhelmed right now,” Molln said, “but it’s just frustrating that there aren’t more tests available.”

And depending on where you go to get a test could mean even longer wait times. 

Carlos Fuentes, of Ankeny, got tested at Hy-Vee and waited several days for his results. He’s concerned this could lead to even more spread of the virus.

“I think that if it takes so long, people are just going to be irresponsible and they’re just going to go back to whatever they need to do,” Fuentes said, “because they can’t really wait five, six days to get a result.” 

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