It’s taking health officials in the Roanoke-Alleghany region longer to receive COVID-19 test results.
Dr. Molly O’Dell, director of communicable disease control, said investigations of COVID-19 cases are being affected by the turnaround time for testing, known as “TAT”
The turnaround time is now 2-14 days as labs are seeing increased demand. The turnaround was 2-3 days before labs used by health departments began to see higher demand.
“It’s very spotty. It fluctuates. It depends on the vendor and the burden on the individual vendor,” O’Dell said during her weekly press briefing Tuesday morning.
“More and more people are requesting tests for various reasons. There’s all sorts of reasons and practices being displayed in the demand for testing.
If one of these labs is overwhelmed with a burden, it’s backed up,” she said of the longer wait for test results.
To ease the strain, labs are beginning to implement criteria used by health departments on testing. That means higher priority will be placed on testing of people identified through contact tracing, people deemed at high risk and individuals in congregant living environments.
O’Dell said that on Tuesday, there had been 2,195 cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases in the health districts.
In the Roanoke City Health District, there were 1,156 cases, and 87 were active. In the Alleghany Health District, there were 1,014 cases, 74 were active.
Tuesday morning, 23 new cases were reported to O’Dell. There were seven outbreaks, 17 hospitalizations and a total of 32 COVID-19 related deaths.
The outbreaks were in three long-term care facilities, two businesses, one health care facility and one congregate living setting.
Data show that the two health districts are experiencing a moderate burden and transmission is approaching “substantial.”
“Cases are going to continue to rise and the amount per week or per day is going to fluctuate greatly. We have gone from 80-some per day for about four weeks. Last week and this week have been certainly better, but two weeks doesn’t indicate a trend,” O’Dell said.
Cumulative case numbers by locality Tuesday were: Roanoke City, 1,156; Roanoke County, 588; Botetourt County, 204; Salem, 120; Alleghany County, 62; Craig County, 21; and Covington, 19.
Bath County was still reporting four cumulative cases Tuesday. Bath is in the Central Shenandoah Health District.