Testing surge, COVID outbreaks, causing issues for labs

COVID-19 testing
Posted at 5:37 PM, Jan 17, 2022

ABERDEEN, Md (WMAR) — As the omicron variant continues to spread, coupled with new testing requirements and an at- home kit shortage, testing sites are still seeing large crowds.

The surge has put a stress on the laboratories processing the results, causing some wait times to jump from 48 hours to 72.

“We’ve really experienced unprecedent demand over the past couple of weeks,” said Aaron Poynton, the CEO of Omnipoynt Solutions. “Laboratories we work with are currently on double shifts and even working on Sundays processing samples.”

Omnipoynt Solutions is the Maryland-based company in charge of testing at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. They distribute tests and collect the samples, bringing them to labs to be processed. However, they ran into issues last week when their primary lab shut down because of a COVID outbreak. The 471 PCR tests from January 10 expired before they arrived at a back- up lab.

When Ripken Stadium reopens Tuesday for testing, there will be an express lane for those who have to get re-tested.

Poynton also made changes to his company so it doesn’t happen again.

“We’ve changed over from saliva to nasal swabs, which are more standardized and accepted at various labs across the country,” said Poynton.

He’s also hoping that the steady decrease in the state’s positivity rate means we have hit the peak of cases and testing too.

“We believe that testing will move off of this surge that we’ve seen over the past two weeks and go back down to sort of a normal state,” said Poynton.

The other key to tackling the PCR testing back log. He said, is making at-home kits more readily available.

“I think it’s important that the manufacturers start putting these over the counter tests, which are now covered by insurance, on the shelves or various retailers. That will absolutely reduce the stress on the healthcare system,” said Poynton.

Any patient who was tested on January 10 at Ripken Stadium is encouraged to go back to the Ripken testing site to be re-tested for a PCR sample.

Once you arrive, put on your hazard lights and a lot attendant will direct you to an express lane. Anyone impacted by this should've received a letter about it.

Anyone who received a PCR test that day also received a rapid test and got those results that day. Poynton said no other testing days were impacted by this.