Montco rep. urges Pa. health officials to look at options for speeding COVID-19 test results


UPDATED: 3:35 p.m. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania health officials say they're working hard to expand COVID-19 testing sites. Results from those tests are still taking a week or more to come back, and at least one lawmaker is asking the state to look into other options.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine say widespread testing is crucial to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Wolf says there are 445 testing sites across the state, and they're conducting about 22,000 tests per day, ranking Pennsylvania ninth in the country.

Wolf and Levine point to a partnership with Walmart as an example of how they’ve expanded testing, including a four-minute video showing what the collection of samples looks like.

That partnership uses Quest Diagnostics to analyze the samples.

Walmart Regional Health and Wellness Director Jamie Reilly says, while results average seven days to come back, "it can take up to 14 days' response to turn around for results.”

“You got more swabbers or more people providing the swabs, but then let’s get them to a lab that can turn them around in a hurry instead of sending them off to a lab with a 14-day back log," he said.

Stephens says he’s meeting with the Health Department on Monday to discuss other labs, such as North Carolina lab Mako Medical, which Montgomery County signed on with last week in a contract that requires test results to come back within 36 hours.

“It doesn’t have to be Mako," Stephens said. "But we have an opportunity here, where a lab has guaranteed results within 36 hours, and to me that’s the direction we need to go.”

Mako says they would open a lab in Montco, speeding up results even more, if they got a commitment for 2,500 tests per day. And they say that lab could process 5,000 tests per day.