COVID-19 tests: Labs warn they are approaching capacity as demand surges

June 30, 2020

Labs say the recent surge in COVID-19 tests and cases has them closely approaching testing capacity.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in many states across the South and Western U.S. has clinical laboratories concerned they are close to testing capacity.

The American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), which represents major laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp and others, said in a statement that COVID-19 testing capacity will be exceeded in recent weeks.

“ACLA member laboratories have seen a steady increase in the volume of COVID-19 test orders," the statement reads. "While our members are collectively performing hundreds of thousands of tests each day, the anticipated demand for COVID-19 testing over the coming weeks will likely exceed members’ testing capacities. This significant increase in demand could extend turnaround times for test results."

Quest released a statement of its own, saying "we have continued to experience surging demand for these services, with recent daily orders outpacing capacity. As a result, while our average turnaround time continues to be one day for priority 1 patients, it is now three to five days for all other populations."

The company said its ramping up its capacity to conduct more than 150,000 tests per day. The company is currently doing about 115,000 tests per day, according to the statement.

"While we have the supplies to meet our current capacity target, we continue to work with our industry partners on platforms, reagent test kits and other supplies," the statement reads.

More than 31.5 million coronavirus tests have been conducted in the United States since the pandemic began, with as many as 500,000 to 600,000 tests per day in recent weeks, according to the COVID Tracking Project.