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Two months later, woman is still waiting on her COVID-19 test results

Local woman tested in March says her results are on "hold."
Credit: WTSP

LAKELAND, Fla. — When phase one reopening started in Florida, the rules for testing changed. Now, anyone who wants to be tested for COVID-19 can be -- even if they don't have symptoms.

But those who took tests before the testing expanded can tell you, the results can take a while.

Nicole Ely was tested in March and told to self-isolate in her dorm.

“I think its 10 feet by 10 feet,” Nicole explained while giving 10Investigates a video tour of her dorm.

For weeks she waited for the results of her COVID-19 test.

“They put a swab up both my nostrils. It was very uncomfortable,” Ely explained.

But, what was even more uncomfortable, the time it’s taking to get her test results. Nearly two months later, the status of that test shows that it is on "hold."

“I was told that they sent my results to the Department of Health but they were rejected," Ely explained to 10Investigates' Jennifer Titus.

Medical records for Ely note a COVID-19 swab was taken on March 17. The notes go on to say, "DOH feels she is very low risk."

Ely says at the time of testing, she was younger than the high-risk age and had not traveled internationally.

Nearly two months after that swab was taken and without any results, she wonders, who else is also waiting?

“I def (sic) think numbers are a lot higher than we know because of testing issues.”

10Investigates wanted to know too. We dug into the documents released by the Department of Health on Monday. One thousand and eighty people across the state are still waiting for their results.

Pinellas County makes up 117 of those tests, second in the state. Pasco and Hillsborough only have 19 people waiting.

We emailed major Bay Area hospitals to see how long people are waiting for test results.

Advent Health says community testing sites are providing results within approximately 2-3 business days.

BayCare Health says initially results were taking up to 2 weeks to get back but now they’re “processing specimens in house, patients receive their results in 24 to 36 hours.”

Lakeland Regional Health says at most someone will have to wait 3 days for their results.

Ely was tested at Lakeland Regional and says the waiting in self-isolation was the hardest part.

“I was going stir crazy.”

Ely's mom tells 10Investigates she is still experiencing shortness of breath but doesn't want to go back to the doctor until the COVID-19 cases decline a little more.

Testing is open to everyone now, but the questions still swirl about how many people, like Ely, wanted testing a few weeks ago before it was available to everyone?

10Investigates spoke with an epidemiologist who says that’s exactly why we will never know the real number of people who contracted this deadly virus.

But he says anyone with symptoms should get tested. You can find a list of testing sites in your area by clicking here.

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