DAY TWO: The Lab (To read Day One, please go HERE)
OK, so I did it, I got tested. What now?
That’s exactly what I wondered, so I put those awesome journalistic skills to work (from home of course) and set out to find out where my sample went and what was being done with it.
A bit of Googling and a couple of phone calls later I had the answer.
Augusta University Health is managing testing in Georgia at the site where I went. Other testing sites are being managed through CVS and Walmart. My pre-screening had been through Augusta Health, and my sample was taken at site set up in a parking deck at Kennesaw State University and manned by National Guard personnel.
Samples managed by Augusta Health go to one of three places:
- Augusta University Labs. Tests that are needed quickly, such as patients and employees, are processed in the microbiology lab, while the rest — mostly specimens collected at the drive-thru sites (like mine) — are sent to the Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory (GEM) molecular diagnostics lab for processing.
- Quest reference lab
- University of Virginia Health Laboratory. UVA is using a SARS-CoV-2 test they developed themselves.
The Augusta GEM Lab team
Augusta performs both screening and confirmation testing, using Abbott ID NOW™ and Cepheid Xpert® Xpress qualitative tests and qPCR quantitative testing. There has been some question raised as to the accuracy/reliability of some provisionally FDA-approved (EUA) fast tests, with negative results reportedly as low as 85% accurate. However, positive results are very reliable, according to the lab tech I spoke with. Therefore, at Augusta any positive results are acted on, while negatives are followed up with a qPCR reflex confirmation.
My Day Two has now extended into Day Four, with no results in sight yet. I’m taking that as a good thing, since negative results should take longer to get back because they undergo a second, confirmatory test.