PHOENIX — New data shows the state lab and commercial labs across the state report running nearly 20,000 COVID-19 tests as of Tuesday. But just because you get swabbed, doesn’t mean it will be run.
Arizonans are telling 12 News they’re getting swabbed, but in some cases, getting delays in results or no answers at all.
“The doctor that swabbed me warned me that it’s going to hurt,” said Jenna Andrews. “She didn’t lie.”
Jenna started to feel sick in early March after returning from Seattle.
On March 10, she went to her hospital near Tucson and was swabbed for COVID-19.
“I was told to self-quarantine and I’d have results in five to seven days,” she explained.
Her outpatient forms, obtained by 12 News, back that up. But five to seven days came and went. No phone calls and no answers. At that point, Jenna was losing more than hope.
“The loss of money and income for my family,” she sais. “My husband had to be quarantined as well.”
She started calling around to the hospital and the state lab, and finally on day nine, she heard back.
“The doctor had said they called the health department and found out my test was rejected due to my symptoms," she said.
It turns out, the state lab doesn't run all the swabs it receives.
Right now, they're only testing swabs that fit certain criteria like healthcare workers, people living in groups or people who are hospitalized and all must have symptoms. They're the same rules private labs are advised to follow, too.
In an interview with 12 News, Jessica Rigler, the assistant director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, stated that some swabs sent to the state lab were not tested if the county health departments did not pre-approve them or if they did not meet the state’s criteria to be tested.
“In order to be tested, and there is a prioritization matrix that the counties use when determining whether or not a person meets criteria to be tested at the state public health laboratory,” Rigler said.
To see all the testing criteria, click here.
“I had all the symptoms,” Jenna explained. “I just don’t get it.”
Jenna's not alone. 12 News has heard from more than a dozen people saying they’ve waited too long or just aren’t getting their results, people like Kimberly Castaneda.
“Not being able to hold my baby, or take care of her or hug and kiss my big girls is killing me,” she said.
Kimberly is a mom of three in Phoenix.
She got swabbed March 18 and has been in isolation since.
“I’m calling around and talking to all these different people, trying to figure out my test results is rather frustrating because nobody has the same answer,” she says.
Eleven days after her swab, she finally got results in. Sort of.
Her results show COVID -19 is “Not Detected,” but there’s a disclaimer, saying a negative result does not rule out the possibility of COVID-19 and shouldn’t be the sole basis of treatment.
We want to hear from you. Tell us your testing story here.
Then, there’s Melissa Moreno.
“I’ve never felt so helpless, especially in the middle of the night when I hear our 1-year-old starts crying and I just want to jump into action but I can’t because I can’t leave my room,” she explained.
Melissa said she started to feel sick around March 14 with a fever, fatigue and some serious coughing. She isolated herself in her bedroom while her husband and two young children hunkered down outside her door.
On March 18, she said she went to HonorHealth and swabbed for COVID-19. After days with no results and a worsening condition, she went back to the hospital on March 25, where she said a staff member explained they hadn’t gotten results from the lab.
“It looked like they had actually sent it out, but for some reason, in their records, they decided to discontinue it,” explained Jonathon, Melissa’s husband. “We don’t know how that happened. We kind of got the runaround.”
Without results, Melissa said she was “presumed positive” by a doctor at HonorHealth.
“The medical director actually came and talked to me,” Melissa says. “She said, 'I’m so sorry this happened.' As far as the hospital’s concerned, I think it was out of their control.”
Melissa and her family waited 14 days to clear her on their own. She reunited with her family this weekend, with precautions.
As for Jenna, she's starting to feel better and hopes she can get back to work, despite not having results.
“I’m hoping that means I’m not contagious, but nobody knows.”