AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the delta variant sweeps through Central Texas, area pharmacies, clinics and other COVID-19 testing facilities are seeing spikes in demands.
For patients who’ve successfully booked a COVID-19 testing appointment or have found a walk-up location, testing turnaround varies depending on the pharmacy or clinic, as well as is dependent on if they process the tests in-house or via a third party.
There are currently 144 listed COVID-19 testing sites within a 15-mile radius of Austin, according to data from the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Department of State Health Services. Here is a look at the current testing result timeframes for Austin-area pharmacies.
Austin Public Health
Officials said Monday current estimates anticipate patients will receive their testing results 3-4 days after tests are conducted. However, they noted test results have been coming back at a slightly faster pace than that timeframe, but have been using that threshold given the current increase in demand.
APH encourages all prospective test recipients register for a scheduled appointment instead of waiting on-site for availability. The George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center currently serves as a walk-in site, while St. Johns Testing Site is a drive-thru facility.
- George Morales Dove Springs Recreation Center:
Tuesday, Thursday, 3-7 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
- St. Johns Testing Site:
Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
The heightened interest in testing is also reflective in APH historic data of COVID-19 tests conducted in July, compared to June. Collectively, 20,159 tests were conducted between May 30 and June 26.
In July, a total of 28,753 tests were conducted by APH between June 27 and July 31, with 13,723 of those tests reported during the week of July 25 to July 31 alone.
Austin Regional Clinic
Austin Regional Clinic offers appointments for drive-up PCR testing as part of its COVID-19 services.
According to ARC representatives, testing demands have doubled between June and July. Currently, spokesperson Lynda Shanblum said PCR test results are available 1-2 days after the patient’s appointment.
Within the Austin-Travis County region, a Curative spokesperson confirmed Monday COVID-19 testing results are, on average, returned 40.95 hours after tests are performed. Tests are conducted by appointment, with several kiosks and testing facility across the Austin metro.
CVS currently offers self-swab polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests as part of a drive-thru service. Patients are asked to schedule an appointment prior to receiving a test.
On average, results are returned between 1-2 days after the patient’s appointment, officials said in an email Monday.
“We continue to be able to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing, even with increasing numbers of patients seeking out tests at one of our more than 4,800 CVS Pharmacy locations across the country offering testing with same day and future day appointments in most geographies. Patients have the option to schedule an appointment for either a rapid COVID-19 test, with results available within hours, or a COVID-19 test at the pharmacy drive-thru windows. The self-swab collected at the CVS Pharmacy drive-thru window is processed by an independent, third-party lab and those results are generally available within 1-2 days. In addition, CVS stores across the country offer multiple over-the-counter COVID-19 test kits, allowing patients to self-test at home.”Monica Prinzing, CVS Health corporate spokesperson
Grand Avenue Pharmacy
Grand Avenue Pharmacy currently offers COVID-19 testing without requiring an appointment, with drive-ins welcomed.
In a call with KXAN Monday, Grand Ave Pharmacy staff said their PCR test results are available, on average, approximately 72 hours after tests are conducted, with some variations depending on demand. They also noted they go through a third party testing facility for result findings.
Austin resident John Rackowski was one of those testing anomalies. He received both a rapid test and a PCR test at Grand Ave Pharmacy’s Austin location Aug. 2; as of noon on Monday, he’d yet to receive his PCR results.
He said he understood some testing delays due to the swell of delta variant cases and increased demand for testing. However, he said that as someone who was in direct contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, waiting over a week for results is “unnerving” at best.
“Going on over a week now, I’m still not sure if I’m positive or negative. I did get a rapid test and that was negative, I felt no symptoms but I was exposed to somebody with a confirmed case,” he said. “So, I want to make absolutely sure that, you know, I do not have it. I haven’t seen my family in over a week. So I’m just kind of sitting here hunkered down on myself.”
Walgreens provides free drive-thru COVID-19 testing by appointment only.
In an email Monday, Walgreens media relations officials said they were not aware of “any delays at this time in labs processing PCR test results in.”
As part of its COVID-19 efforts, Walgreens partners with PWNHealth for drive-thru testing options. In a message on its website, PWNHealth said: “there may be longer wait times depending on lab volume and demand for testing,” encouraging patients contact their pharmacy for further information.
From a lab testing standpoint, Walgreens’ COVID-19 tests are conducted through third party lab partners, Labcorp and Aegis. Labcorp noted its results are typically available 1-2 days after tests arrive at their lab. As of July 14, Aegis said “greater than 90% of samples reported in under 24 hours after receipt in lab.”