Skip to content
Timothy L. O'Brien

Covid-19 Testing Is Broken and There's No Plan to Fix It

Washington needs to help upgrade America’s laboratory network before the next coronavirus wave arrives.

When will they know the result?

When will they know the result?

Photographer: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Many of the recent stories are familiar, but still distressing and perplexing.

There was the gentleman in Tucson who waited 27 days to get results from a Covid-19 test, only to discover he didn’t have the virus and the two weeks he spent in quarantine had been pointless. There was the nonprofit nursing home chain in the Phoenix area that waited five days for test results, only to learn that several staff members and residents had the coronavirus; the asymptomatic staffers had roamed freely until the results arrived. And there have been many tales of Arizona residents waiting a week, on average, to get test results — and sometimes much longer — even though their state has been a coronavirus hotspot for more than a month. Texas, Florida, California and many other newly resurgent corona-states have similar stories.