COVID testing results slow for Community Labs as demand skyrockets

Normally, 200,000 tests are administered in a month. This month, Community Labs is on track to administer 400,000.

SAN ANTONIO – Community Labs has partnered with Metro Health and Bexar County to offer eight walk-in mass, testing sites.

The self-administered nasal swab test and registration only takes a few minutes with a promise of results in 24 hours, until now.

Several people being tested Monday were told they should expect results between 24 to 72 hours. Community Labs has added the wait time is “roughly 72 hours.”

It’s a combination of issues, president of Community Labs Sal Webber told us last week a delay with shipping caused results to be backlogged.

“There were two small chemical components that were not delivered by FedEx,” Webber said on January 11th.

Now, COVID is leading to staffing shortages for Community Labs.

“The staffing kind of came in on top of the hole that we had from the logistics issue. And so it’s made it very hard to catch up,” Webber said.

He explained they tried to catch up this weekend, their lab working 24/7, but they’re not there yet.

His hope is the 72 hour turnaround time is temporary.

“If we can maintain the pace with the staff we have and nobody else goes out, then you know that should be a very temporary situation,” Webber said.

Meanwhile, their testing sites have a constant stream of people.

Wonderland of the Americas tested almost 2,000 people Friday. Testing proctors tell us Monday was slower but it’s still busy and has been for the last year.

Jose and Teresa Flores came because she’s been under the weather.

“We came out because she had symptoms a couple of days ago. She had like a scratchy throat, and I guess she had a fever, right?” Jose said.

“A little bit, 99.5,” Teresa added.

Webber can’t promise when they’ll be back to their normal turnaround times, just that they’re working as fast as they can with their current jump in positivity rate.

“Nobody thought you were going to see a 50 percent of anyone population, 50 percent. We thought we might be able to get to, you know, 10 or 12 percent again,” Webber said.

Webber believes their lab may have seen a peak last Tuesday or Wednesday and that the positivity rate could be dropping, but they won’t know for sure until they get through this last backlog.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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