Deadline to get COVID-19 test results before Thanksgiving is approaching

Wait times for COVID testing increasing

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County Health Officials are encouraging everyone to get tested before gathering for Thanksgiving, but they say the deadline to get your results on time is coming quickly.

“You absolutely need to know the turn around times because you need the information to make a decision,” Dr. David Hicks with the Jefferson County Health Department said.

Dr. David Hicks with the Jefferson County Health Department said he has seen an increase in the amount of people getting tested for COVID-19 before the holiday.

“A month ago, everyone would have told you that testing is down and the demand is down,” Hicks said. “In the past week, we are hearing that it is picking up and more people are getting tested.”

With the demand for testing increasing, Hicks said might have to wait longer for your results depending on where you get tested. Hicks said county sites use local labs and are still maintaining a 48 hour turnaround time. But, if you get tested at a private doctor’s office or somewhere else, it could take longer depending on the lab used.

“That’s why you ask that first question of ‘how long will it take me to get my result back’ and then you try and time it,” Hicks said.

If you’re getting tested for Thanksgiving, Hick said you need to plan on going soon.

“If I am getting a PCR test, I would probably give a three day cushion of time, so I would say probably Monday,” Hicks said. “If you are getting that PCR test, you want to get it no later than Monday.”

If you can’t get tested early in the week, Hicks said rapid testing is a good alternative, but your results could be compromised.

“They are great because they are really convenient,” Hicks said. “You can get a result back super fast, but they are not as accurate at picking things up. They can miss a case.”

Hicks said if you get tested before the weekend or on the weekend, you may need to factor in extra time.

“Most labs are continuously going on a daily basis because they know that they have to really get these results back,” Hicks said.

Click here for a list of testing sites in Jefferson County.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.