COVID test results available quicker

WILMINGTON — As COVID-19 testing options have increased in Delaware, the turnaround time for the results has shrunk.

In the last two weeks, the average time from collection to notification for a COVID-19 test result is 30.5 hours at the state’s Curative Inc. testing sites, according to the Delaware Emergency Management Agency.

“We know this data is only as good as how quickly somebody gets the result,” said DEMA Director A.J. Schall. “Go back to March and April we were hearing nine, 10 or 11 days sometimes for people to get the results back which we knew had to be improved.”

Over the summer, the state advertised results should be returned in 48-72 hours.

Mr. Schall said the state wants to improve on its current average of 30.5 hours and has a goal of an average time of 24 hours from collection to notification for Curative sites.

“It’s important we get that number down,” Mr. Schall said. “As soon as someone gets their results back and if they know they are positive, they can take the protective actions for themselves or families and it helps Public Health with the contact tracing.”

Delaware State News staff members who sought DPH testing this month found faster results than that state average through Curative public testing sites. One staff member was tested on Tuesday at 11 a.m. and received results at 2:57 a.m. Wednesday — a turnaround time of 16 hours. Another DSN staffer was tested Oct. 21 at 4:30 p.m. and was notified of results at 8:32 a.m. the next day — also a turnaround of 16 hours.

October is shaping up to be the busiest month the state has seen in terms of testing. Delaware is on pace to break the mark set in July of 107,886 COVID-19 tests done in one month.

As of Oct. 23, there were 100,616 COVID-19 tests administered and Mr. Schall said he expects the number to finish at around 110,000-112,000 by the end of October.

The Delaware public health division set a goal of 80,000 tests per month early in the summer. June recorded 74,262 tests before July broke the 100,000 barrier for the first time.

Testing tailed off a bit in August and September with 92,306 and 86,033 tests done respectively, but the state was still beating its goal of 80,000.

“Those are really great numbers,” Gov. John Carney said of the testing turnout during his weekly briefing. “I didn’t ever think we would get to 80,000. We almost hit it in June and we’ve been over it since.”

“It puts us up there among the top states in terms of testing,” he added. “It’s just a really important way of measuring the spread of the virus in our state so we can make smart decisions about opening schools safely, so we can make smart decisions about bringing people back to work, so people can get an understanding of areas in our state which have higher levels of spread than others and how we can all pitch in to flatten that curve.”

For comparison, the state did 26,488 tests in April and 44,141 in May toward the beginning of the pandemic.

The state currently has 19 “fixed” or “static” COVID-19 testing sites (at Walgreens, State Service Centers and Public Health Clinics) and rotates around 10 to 15 pop-up sites throughout the state depending on the week.

By the end of October, the state will have done 74 pop-up sites in different communities — a far higher number than the 46 it did in September.

“We really put our heads together to figure out what we could do to capture additional people,” Mr. Schall said. “We knew people were returning to work, children were going back to school, schools were trying to figure out when their hybrid model was going to start.”

“We launched the static community sites to really be that foundation but we know these community sites, these pop-ups or drive-thrus, are where we are having the most success,” Mr. Schall said. “I don’t know if we’ll be at that 70 number going forward, but it will be in that ballpark.”

The state has also acquired two more trailers from Curative Inc. to bring its total number to three. The trailers are used for smaller community-based testing events, at libraries or smaller neighborhood parking lots, to respond where the DPH is seeing elevated levels of community spread.

A full list of available testing sites can be found at de.gov/gettested.

As of Wednesday at 6 p.m., there were 24,392 positive COVID-19 cases in Delaware and 688 COVID-19-related deaths.

The DPH reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths in its daily report and 132 new positive cases. The two most recent deaths were both Sussex County residents. Both had underlying health conditions and both were residents of a long-term care center. They ranged in age from 83 years old to 93 years old.

Delaware’s seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive tests is at 3.4% while its seven-day rolling average for percentage of positive persons, where each person is counted once regardless of how many times they have been tested, is at 7.4%.

There are currently 49 individuals hospitalized in Sussex County with COVID-19, 36 in New Castle County and seven in Kent County for a total of 92 statewide. Of those 92, 22 are considered critical.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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