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How coronavirus testing works

How coronavirus testing works
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jul 29, 2020

LAFAYETTE PARISH — A lab in Scott says it's making sure COVID-19 tests are processed and sent out in a timely manner. Workers at Premier Laboratory Services in Scott have been busy processing COVID-19 tests.

"We have a daily capacity of north of 5,000 specimens we can do on a daily basis," owner Scotty Broussard said.

Once a sample is taken, it's placed in a plastic screw top container with a fluid that preserves the sample.

Once at the lab, the samples go through a process that includes unpacking, labeling and extracting the sample from the tube.
It then goes through different machines, including one that detects the virus.

"We put those on the big PCR machines then repeat the process. Once on the PCR it take an hour or so."

After it goes to the PCR machine, a tech will review and report results, which go into a portal for health officials to see.

"Get the specimens to the lab as quick as possible and render the highest quality results as quick as we can," Broussard said. "In some cases those results are rendered less than 12 hours. Then we have 12-24 hours. Most occasions, we do not go over 48 hours."

He added, "The quicker those results can get back, especially on a true positive individual, the quicker that person can be notified and quarantined. Also, the quicker you can get in touch with individuals they've been in contact with, have those individuals tested - that's how you can suppress the spread of the virus."

Meanwhile, for some labs across the nation an increase in the number of people getting tested is having an impact on the time it takes for results to come back. Some people are waiting as many as 11 days to see their results.

According to Dr. Tina Stefanski, an increase in tests is overwhelming some labs.

"We've seen over the last several months with COVID the lab scenes are an ever-changing environment," Stefanski said. "The great majority of the tests done in the community are private commercial lab tests. So you can imagine the demand for those tests have so dramatically increased. It has put a strain on these private labs."

Stefanski says if you haven't received your results back from the community testing sites the state has administered, you can call 337-262-5311 for help.

Stefanski also noted, at community testing sites, people who test positive will receive a phone call with their results. People who test negative will not get a call.

Information on the commercial lab portal should be given to you at the testing site. It's where you can log on and receive results.

Call 337-262-5311 for more information.