'Soaring demand' for COVID-19 testing slows Quest's turnaround time to 7+ days

Quest Diagnostics said July 13 that despite efforts to scale up its testing capacity, "soaring demand" for COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests has slowed its turnaround time for providing test results to seven or more days for most patients. 

Quest attributed the slowdown to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the South, Southwest and West regions. The lab company said specific drivers of demand include surgical patients who require testing as well as high-risk populations in nursing homes and correctional facilities. 

Quest can perform 125,000 diagnostic tests per day, about double its capacity eight weeks ago, and said it expects to have the capacity to perform 150,000 tests per day by the end of July. 

The average turnaround time for reporting test results to high-priority patients is slightly more than a day. For all other populations, the turnaround time is now seven or more days, Quest said. 

Quest said global supply constraints continue to be an issue. The company is considering additional partners for its lab referral program, through which it forwards samples to other labs with more capacity. But the company said it doesn't expect turnaround times to shorten as long as cases continue to rise rapidly across the U.S. 

Separately, the company announced its preliminary financial results for the second quarter ending June 30 and said the results reflect stronger-than-expected recovery in base testing volumes. 

Revenue is expected to be about $1.83 billion, a decline of about 6 percent since 2019. The volume of tests overall declined about 18 percent compared to the prior year, and the volume of tests that aren't COVID-19-related declined about 34 percent.


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