Alabama COVID-19 Testing Rife With Delays And Uncertainty

 ========= Old Image Removed =========Array
    [_wp_attached_file] => Array
            [0] => 2020/03/State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537.jpg

    [_wp_attachment_metadata] => Array
            [0] => a:5:{s:5:"width";i:2600;s:6:"height";i:1733;s:4:"file";s:84:"2020/03/State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537.jpg";s:5:"sizes";a:10:{s:9:"thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-140x140.jpg";s:5:"width";i:140;s:6:"height";i:140;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:6:"medium";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-336x224.jpg";s:5:"width";i:336;s:6:"height";i:224;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:12:"medium_large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-768x512.jpg";s:5:"width";i:768;s:6:"height";i:512;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:5:"large";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-771x514.jpg";s:5:"width";i:771;s:6:"height";i:514;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:9:"wbhm-icon";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:82:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-80x80.jpg";s:5:"width";i:80;s:6:"height";i:80;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:13:"wbhm-featured";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-600x338.jpg";s:5:"width";i:600;s:6:"height";i:338;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:20:"wbhm-featured-square";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-300x300.jpg";s:5:"width";i:300;s:6:"height";i:300;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:18:"wbhm-featured-home";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-467x311.jpg";s:5:"width";i:467;s:6:"height";i:311;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:22:"wbhm-featured-carousel";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-398x265.jpg";s:5:"width";i:398;s:6:"height";i:265;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}s:14:"post-thumbnail";a:4:{s:4:"file";s:84:"State_Public_Health_Laboratory_in_Exton_Tests_for_COVID-19_-_49628500537-125x125.jpg";s:5:"width";i:125;s:6:"height";i:125;s:9:"mime-type";s:10:"image/jpeg";}}s:10:"image_meta";a:12:{s:8:"aperture";s:3:"2.8";s:6:"credit";s:41:"Commonwealth Media Services: Natalie Kolb";s:6:"camera";s:20:"Canon EOS 5D Mark IV";s:7:"caption";s:218:"Pennsylvania Commonwealth microbiologist Kerry Pollard performs a manual extraction of the coronavirus inside the extraction lab at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories on Friday, March 6, 2020.";s:17:"created_timestamp";s:10:"1583523663";s:9:"copyright";s:27:"Commonwealth Media Services";s:12:"focal_length";s:3:"100";s:3:"iso";s:3:"800";s:13:"shutter_speed";s:7:"0.00625";s:5:"title";s:21:"17848 DOH Testing Lab";s:11:"orientation";s:1:"1";s:8:"keywords";a:0:{}}}

    [_media_credit] => Array
            [0] => Multimedia Specialist, Natalie Kolb

    [_navis_media_credit_org] => Array
            [0] =>  Commonwealth Media Services

    [_navis_media_can_distribute] => Array
            [0] => 


As the number of coronavirus cases in Alabama continues to rise, more people are hoping to be tested. A drive-through testing site on U.S. 280 shut down Tuesday after hordes of people showed up and overwhelmed the private lab.The Alabama Department of Public Health says with a physician’s authorization, an individual can get tested. But laboratories don’t have the manpower to produce results in a timely manner.

More than a week ago, Sevim, an ESL teacher in Huntsville, experienced what she believed to be coronavirus symptoms. She asked us to use her first name only to protect her identity. Her newest student is from Japan. The student came to school sick a couple of weeks ago. 

Soon after, Sevim was sick too. She went to an urgent care clinic where she was tested for coronavirus. Two days later, she called for an update on her results.

“I waited on the phone and I found out that the state department threw out my testing, that they didn’t test it,” she says. “That’s all that was told to me.”

Sevim’s symptoms worsened. She called her doctor again, who told her to go to the emergency room. There, she saw another doctor. 

“She saw my symptoms and said your symptoms are definitely the coronavirus,” she says. “And I knew it was because I went from the typical flu like to you can’t breathe in your chest and you’re breathless and the mucus just taking over your body.

Sevim was tested again. Then the doctor sent her home to self-isolate while she waited for the results. Several days later, she’s still waiting

Sevim’s story isn’t unique. Even some private labs are having difficulty turning around test results quickly.  

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at UAB on Monday said tests are available for people who need them. However, she said laboratories across the state don’t have the personnel to provide test results. 

“So right now, we’re still operating in a situation where it’s taking us 48 to 72 hours to get test results back,” she says. “That’s not okay. We need same-day testing. We need test results really quickly.”

Initially, the Alabama Department of Public Health said labs must report positive test results within four hours of identification. But that seems nearly impossible. Marazzo says the demand is quickly outstripping the resources laboratories have available. That’s not only an issue in Alabama, Marrazzo says, but in lots of places across the country. 


Once praised, settlement to help sickened BP oil spill workers leaves most with nearly nothing

Thousands of ordinary people who helped clean up after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico say they got sick. A court settlement was supposed to help compensate them, but it hasn’t turned out as expected.

Q&A: How harm reduction can help mitigate the opioid crisis

Maia Szalavitz discusses harm reduction's effectiveness against drug addiction, how punitive policies can hurt people who need pain medication and more.

The Gulf States Newsroom is hiring a Community Engagement Producer

The Gulf States Newsroom is seeking a curious, creative and collaborative professional to work with our regional team to build up engaged journalism efforts.

Gambling bills face uncertain future in the Alabama legislature

This year looked to be different for lottery and gambling legislation, which has fallen short for years in the Alabama legislature. But this week, with only a handful of meeting days left, competing House and Senate proposals were sent to a conference committee to work out differences.

Alabama’s racial, ethnic health disparities are ‘more severe’ than other states, report says

Data from the Commonwealth Fund show that the quality of care people receive and their health outcomes worsened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s your favorite thing about Alabama?

That's the question we put to those at our recent News and Brews community pop-ups at Hop City and Saturn in Birmingham.

More Coronavirus Coverage