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COVID-19 testing demand rising, causing bigger workload for labs

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Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 4:34 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Thousands in and around the Charlottesville area are testing for COVID-19. Lab results are coming back quickly as lab technologists are hard at work

“Between the holiday travels and gatherings, as well as the increasing cases around the district, a lot of people have taken us up on the offer to come in and get tested,” Blue Ridge Health District Spokesperson Jason Elliott said. “Between December 20th to December 24th, Blue Ridge Health District and Next Molecular conducted 1,925 tests. So those four days were very, very busy when it came to testing.”

Typically, the University of Virginia runs between 500 and 600 each day.

“Monday and Tuesday of this week, we hit 1,000 tests per day, which is pretty much the maximum that our laboratory can handle in any single day,” UVA Medical Laboratories Medical Director Dr. Chris Moskaluk said Thursday, December 30.

After getting swabbed for the virus, there’s a whole process before results come back to you. Additionally, the window of time where you find out varies.

“We’re in this 24-hour cycle,” Next Molecular Analytics CSO Dr. Robert D Harris said. “It goes longer if a sample has to be repeated or re-extracted, which you can imagine we have to wait for those initial results to come up, see if there’s ambiguity, see if it’s uninterpretable, see if we have to re-extract that same sample. And then, of course, there’s a delay.”

Dr. Moskaluk says staff members are pulling longer hours.

“The laboratory technologists are under the same pressures, as you know, the nurses and the physicians all throughout the pandemic. You know, people have worked a lot of overtime, sometimes even double shifts, in order to get all the testing done,” he said.

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