Complaints continue over delayed COVID test results

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:09 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:38 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - If you’ve taken a COVID-19 test lately, and continue to wait for the results longer than expected, you are definitely not alone in Northeast Wisconsin.

We’re receiving a number of complaints from people asking us what’s causing the delay.

For people trying to call a provider after taking a COVID test to ask about the status of their results, this is the number one complaint.

“Due to the current holiday surge we are experiencing higher than normal call volume,” said a recording for a national testing company based in California with a location in Appleton.

That’s the experience one viewer told us she had with a provider after being tested on January 6, and was told she would have results by the 9.

Instead, she received nothing until almost a week later.

State Health officials have tried addressing those concerns.

“The reality of it is, this is a matter of volumes,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.

The solution, though, isn’t so simple.

“We’ve been processing a record number of tests week over week,” Timberlake added, “and the best thing that we can be doing to improve turnaround times is to continue to bring more testing providers who have other relationships with other labs into the equation.”

DHS and local health officials are advising people to contact their provider if you fail to receive test results within the time promised.

However, that’s no longer possible at places like the Center for COVID Control, which shut down nationwide operations Friday, citing staffing concerns amid a number of complaints.

In Wisconsin the company has a location in Darboy, just east of Appleton, plus other locations in the Madison and Milwaukee area.

We tried calling them, too. A recording said, ”Sorry, but the user’s mailbox can’t accept more messages.”

The company, based in Chicago, says it intends to reopen January 22.

As for oversight, each state, including Wisconsin, contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to regulate testing facilities.

In an email DHS tells us, the federal agency “has the ability to impose enforcement or sanction actions, the state agencies do not.”

Action 2 News did reach out to the CMS regional office in Chicago for comment, asking about penalties for testing sites that don’t provide results or have incorrect information on results.

So far no one has responded.

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