Delays in COVID-19 testing results reported at Northwest Side facility

WGN Investigates
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CHICAGO — A drive-thru testing site opened on the Northwest Side late last month to help first responders and medical professionals get screened for the COVID-19 virus. 

The results are supposed to come within five days. But as WGN Investigates has learned that’s not always happening. 

The site opened March 23 at a former vehicle emissions test building at 6959 Forest Drive. Tests were initially limited to 250 a day, and reserved for first-responders and medical professionals.

But testing has since been expanded and opened up to a wider population as cases in Cook County continue to climb. 

“As efficient as they were and timely at performing the test, I’m worried and concerned they’re not able to get the results back,” Dr. Jonith Breadon said.

Dr. Breadon, a Chicago dermatologist, got tested more than 10 days ago after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. She has yet to learn her results. 

She’s not alone. WGN Investigates heard from others who were tested at the site but are unable to obtain results. 

The COVID-19 tests from the site are processed by two companies: Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The companies declined to comment specifically about delayed test results from this location. 

A Quest spokeswoman said nationally the firm has increased its testing capacity, to the point where the average turnaround time is now four to five days. But the company’s backlog remains at 115,000 tests. 

More than 2,900 tests have been administered at the site, an IDPH spokesman said.

It’s unknown how many of those results are delayed. 

“We are aware of a lag in testing results from the [contracted labs],” the IDPH spokesman said in an email. “We have been told federal officials and the commercial labs are working to rectify this problem. In the meantime, if individuals are experiencing symptoms they are urged to call their doctor immediately.”

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