Embry Health Plans To Collect 40,000 Samples Across State In A Single Day As Sonora Quest Laboratories See Over 50% Of Symptomatic Patients Test Positive
PHOENIX – Health officials have said the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the state is skyrocketing, creating a high demand for testing and forcing thousands of people to queue in the valley.
Embry Health sites saw a constant stream of cars lined up for testing. Raymond Embry, CEO and co-founder of the TestNOW program, expects more than 40,000 samples to be collected on Tuesday.
“It looks like we’re on the right track to potentially going into 50% positivity,” Embry said. “This matches the exponential spread of the virus. We saw it before the New Year and it continues.
Embry sites report a positivity rate of 38%, well above the standard threshold of 5% set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2020.
Context is everything and Arizona shatters standards
In May 2020, WHO officials suggested to governments that before reopening, the percentage of positivity – (what tests done and how many give a positive result) should stay at 5% or less for at least 14 days.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, the current positivity rate is 10.6%, however, this percentage of positive diagnostic tests are reported electronically.
Embry Health recorded an almost four-fold higher percentage of positivity, with PCR test turnaround times ranging from one to three days.
“We started to work with several labs, that way we don’t depend on any lab,” Embry said.
One of these laboratories is Sonora Quest Laboratories.
RELATED: Sonora Quest Strengthens COVID-19 Testing Operations in Arizona
Asymptomatic vs symptomatic patients, both are positive at an alarming rate
Inside the Sonora Quest Labs, teams are working in three shifts around the clock to tackle the current wave of COVID-19.
“A few weeks ago we were at 7,000-8,000 specimens a day, and now we have reached 30,000,” said Tom Leggett, director of business development for Sonora Quest.
The lab gave worrying numbers in the previous two weeks, dropping from 24.6% in December to 40.5% almost two weeks after the start of the new year.
“The specimen comes in, it’s entered our system; then it’s triage to the appropriate section where the molecular technician takes it and processes it, ”Leggett said.
Laboratories processed 105,114 asymptomatic samples, and 29.4% of them tested positive for COVID-19. Of the 68,265 specimens showing symptoms, the positivity rate climbed to 51.3%.
“Testing is important because we have therapies that can help individuals,” Leggett said. “If you are positive you can quarantine and protect others around you.”
Sonora Quest said the average lead time for results is 1.31 days.
COVID-19 News and Updates
Subscribe to the 12 News YouTube channel to receive notifications of the latest videos on the latest coronavirus news.