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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

SC health officials apologize for COVID-19 test result delays

COVID-19 tests have been in high-demand since schools started up.
Mufid Majnun
COVID-19 tests have been in high-demand since schools started up.

South Carolina health officials released a statement Tuesday apologizing for long delays getting people their COVID-19 test results in recent weeks and pledging to hold vendors accountable for the holdups.

The overwhelming majority of tests in South Carolina are processed by private labs, the statement said, and some of those large private labs, including Premier Medical Laboratory Services, have fallen "significantly" behind on processing those tests.

That's due in part to staff shortages at some of the labs, the statement said, and the sheer volume of new tests arriving every day.

In some cases, the state's Department of Health and Environmental Control has told people to finish their isolation period or return to work if they have no symptoms for five days, rather than continue to wait for their test results to come back.

The delays have come as COVID-19 cases in South Carolina have risen to some of their highest levels so far in the pandemic. On Wednesday, the state reported more than 10,700 newly confirmed cases and probable cases on DHEC's COVID-19 dashboard.

The department says it is "taking every step to hold the responsible labs and vendors accountable and get results back in a timely fashion."

The statement did not detail what actions the state might take against the vendors but said DHEC "sincerely apologizes to all those negatively impacted by the substandard performance of select vendors and is working diligently to correct those issues."

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Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal