Some Arizonans waiting for days for COVID-19 test result due to testing backlog

The rate that COVID-19 is spreading has steadied in Arizona, infecting an average of 3,000 people a day.

While Arizona has hit 150,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, some wonder if that number might be much higher because of a massive backlog of COVID-19 tests, with some of the people tested waiting days, if not weeks, for their results.

On July 22, FOX 10 spoke with Aubrey Bellia, who has been waiting for her test results since early July.

Woman has waited for 13 days

Bellia says she went in for testing on July 9 after feeling sick.

"When I woke up, I couldn't breathe," said Bellia. "I felt like I had bricks in my chest and I knew something was off."

In the meantime, she remains isolated.

"It's very frustrating. We have had lots of things delivered to the house and it cost a lot of money. It's beyond frustrating," said Bellia.

Sonora Quest reporting backlog

Waiting for results from a COVID-19 test is an issue for many across the state. Sonora Quest is reporting a backlog of processing nearly 62,000 tests, with most results reported within 9 days.

In a statement, officials with Sonora Quest say they are bringing in testing instrumentation online with a goal of reducing turnaround times in the coming weeks, hoping that y the end of August they will be able to process up to 60,000 tests per day with results in 24-48 hours. 

Health expert speaks out

Former Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble says the problem with test turnaround causes several issues, one being that people are not able to get the information they need to take definitive action, such as isolating. Secondly, they are not able to tell people around them they have possibly been exposed.
"The people at the county health departments get the information after it’s too late, so the contact tracing efforts aren’t really doing any good," said Humble.

Humble says that it's unfair to just blame Sonora Quest for their backlog issues, because this is a statewide response. 

"There’s a lot of CARES Act money that’s in place that came from the federal government that is available to be used by the state and options for this thing, that they can get additional vendors to come and run these laboratory tests and partners that can step up, and PCR instruments that are out there in the community where the state can mobilize resources," said Humble.

On the other hand, officials with AZDHS say they have reached out to the lab to see how they can assist with clearing their backlog of tests.

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.

COVID-19 resources


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (In Spanish/En Espanol)

Arizona Department of Health Services (In Spanish/En Español)

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data