VCHD: Samples collected by IDPH Mobile COVID-testing clinic not processed in time


VERMILION COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Officials with the Vermilion County Health Department (VCHD) announced Monday that some people who participated in a state-run coronavirus Mobile Testing Clinic may need to get retested due to a lab being overwhelmed.

A Facebook post from VCHD said it received several calls from people who were tested for COVID-19 two weeks ago at one of seven mobile clinics in Vermilion County saying they have still not received their results.

The mobile COVID-testing teams were contracted by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

“It appears that a commercial lab in Pekin, which received swabs from the COVID-testing clinic at the health department on July 21, got overwhelmed and failed to properly test the majority (or all 118) of the samples collected at that clinic,” the post stated. “Apparently, a number of samples received at that lab between July 12 and July 24 were not processed within the necessary window for proper testing.”

The post added that IDPH recommended people who are still waiting on their results from July 12 – July 24 to contact a local hospital, local doctor’s office, Aunt Martha’s clinic, or the free state-run COVID-testing location at Marketplace Mall in Champaign to be rescreened for the virus.

“We regret that some of the 967 people who participated in the Mobile COVID-Testing Team clinics in Vermilion County two weeks ago did not get conclusive results after waiting in line and undergoing the specimen-collection process.”

In video interview, Vermilion County Public Health Administrator Doug Toole said they were told by IDPH that one particular lab in Pekin had a problem with processing all the specimens they received. He also said it wasn’t just samples taken in Vermilion County that were delayed.

When it comes to how fast the testing is completed, Toole said it depends on the type of lab that receives them. He said some hospitals return them within 24 hours, and they have “good luck” with hearing back from state-labs in under 48 hours.

“It’s some of those commercial labs that can take longer,” Toole said, “and we got this team that gave us a heads up that because they were using some of the commercial labs, it may take four to seven days to get the results.”

He couldn’t say exactly how soon the labs have to complete testing samples, except that “the swabs are only good for so long.”

An IDPH representative said in an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon that Reditus Laboratories was processing specimens for the mobile testing sites in Vermilion County on July 20 and July 21.

“Specimens are delivered to the lab by courier the day they are collected,” IDPH added in the statement. “Turn around time for testing is typically within three to seven days.”

The IDPH representative referred to a statement issued Friday by the department, which said a total of 3,800 tests had been delayed in Illinois beyond the appropriate lab screening and reporting window.

It added that IDPH was working closely with Reditus Laboratories to improve sample collection at state-run sites and “ensure the processing of specimens moves forward in a timely manner.”

“IDPH is committed to increasing COVID-19 testing across Illinois and in continuously working to improve and streamline the process at community-based and mobile testing sites,” the statement continued.

The IDPH representative also said couriers deliver samples to the lab on the same day they were collected.

Toole said they’ve reached out to IDPH about getting the Mobile Testing Clinic to return to Vermilion County.

“It would be great if we could have them for multiple days like we did this last time,” he said. “I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do that but we’re on the list to have them come back.”

“The locations of the mobile testing sites are constantly being reassessed as activity and resources across the state fluctuate,” said IDPH in their emailed statement.

WCIA contacted Reditus Laboratories requesting it elaborate on why they were overwhelmed. They did not respond.

Vermilion County Health Department
217-431-2662, ext. 243.

Illinois Department of Public Health

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