By Mark Stevens
CBS 58 News
August 14, 2020
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – As the coronavirus continues to rampage across the country, testing has struggled to keep up, leaving patients and public health officials in the dark. A CBS 58 Investigation finds slow testing results cause a chain reaction of problems.
Lines at the Wisconsin National Guard testing sites in Milwaukee have been a familiar scene for months, but the lines there don’t matter as much as the lines at the test processing labs.
“Testing is a really pivotal piece to our ability to control the outbreak of COVID-19,” said University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Epidemiology Professor Amanda Simanek. She said a positive test starts all kinds of processes. Contact tracing, self-isolation, knowing simply where the virus is. She said speed is key.
“Twenty-four hours is ideal,” said Simanek.
But getting coronavirus test results turned around that quickly has proved to be a national challenge.
“To wait up to seven days or longer before you know you are positive,” said Simanek, means people can keep spreading the disease if they don’t think they’re positive, don’t feel sick, and stick to their daily routine.
“When we start talking about a week or longer, it almost makes there no point to the test,” said Simanek.
Viewers responding to CBS 58 Investigates on Facebook experienced a variety of testing turnaround times.