Demand For COVID-19 Tests Causes Delay in Results

The holidays paired with the uptick of Omicron cases have prompted a testing frenzy.

Across the state, there are long lines at Covid-19 testing sites and now, people are also in a waiting game when it comes to receiving results.

Normally, someone tested could expect to get results in two days or even sooner. However, with demand so high right now, that time frame is out the window.

In Mansfield, a woman named Jennifer R. says her family canceled Christmas plans because they were waiting on delayed Covid-19 test results. She and another family had nasal swabs at QVCC in Killingly Thursday.


The results from Sema4 were not back in two days, by Christmas, and on Monday, the results were not back either.

Jennifer told NBC Connecticut in a text: “I feel like this is a huge fail and has held our family captive for the past four days.”

Sema4 tells NBC Connecticut the typical turnaround is three days.

“Our lab is working as expeditiously as possible to keep up with the high demand for testing,” Radley Moss, senior director of communications for Sema4, said in a statement.

Wren Laboratories has the same message.

“We’re expanding to try and meet the need,” Director Dr. Mark Kidd said.

Kidd addressed the delays in test results at a press conference in New Haven Monday.

“We’re having trouble with the supply chain. Not only us, the federal government,” he said. “There will always be some delays in test reports. We’re trying to get tests out within 48 hours of someone being here.”

In an email, Wren Laboratories warns people who have been tested that results could take longer, writing that the labs are experiencing “a much higher testing volume than usual,” and that they regret the delays in normal service and response time.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, assistant director of infectious diseases at Hartford HealthCare, says along with the holidays and the arrival of the Omicron variant, some of this testing surge can be attributed to people not knowing when to get a Covid-19 test.

“People think, okay, well let’s say you and I were in a room right now, and you had COVID and I didn’t, people would go out and say, ‘oh I’m going to go get tested right now,’” Wu said. “I think a lot of people are testing early because they don’t know the science behind it.”

Wu said anyone who thinks they have come into contact with the virus should not test any earlier than two days after exposure.

“But even that may be too early as well,” he said. “Peak time to test would probably be somewhere between days four through seven, but a negative test at day four doesn’t mean you can’t develop COVID later down the road.”

Wu said as at-home tests become available, that could help alleviate some of the pressure on labs. However, he warns that those tests are not as accurate as a PCR test and there is a risk of false negatives.