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State lab has backlog thousands of tests deep for COVID-19

The wait times have led at least one Denver hospital to start doing tests in-house.

DENVER — Thousands of samples taken from patients suspected of having the virus that causes COVID-19 sat untested as the state lab struggled to keep up with a sizeable backlog.

According to data released to 9Wants to Know, as of Tuesday afternoon, the state lab had a backlog of “approximately 2,600 tests.”

While the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wants to soon build capacity to 2,000 tests a day, right now the state can only handle 600 to 700 tests per day with the help of the private company LabCorps.

The backlog is frustrating people as many must wait multiple days to get their test results back.  Patients have told 9Wants to Know they have waited upwards of four or five days to get a phone call telling them they have either tested positive or negative.

In the meantime, Denver Health Medical Center announced Friday it has the in-house capacity to test as many as 200 people a day for the virus.

While testing supply shortages have limited that number, Dr. Connie Savor Price, the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, said the in-house testing has allowed her staff to save on an ever-dwindling supply of personal protective equipment.

The results come back in less than 24 hours.  

“When we can’t get quick test results back, we have to treat everyone… as a positive patient.  So, we’re going through masks and gowns and all of the equipment that must go with an isolated patient,” she said.

“Being able to diagnose quickly helps preserve the equipment we need to protect health care workers,” she said.

Are you waiting days to get your test results back?  Are you a medical professional growing frustrated with the backlog?  Email me at Chris@9news.com.

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