Social media pages and some local officials’ in-boxes have been inundated by Flagler County residents complaining of not getting their Covid-19 test results. Public health officials today explained why: a lab AdventHealth was using in Texas has been overrun, causing delays.
“I’ve got messages from tons of residents, I’ve heard about some delays and issues with Texas, but not a ton of details,” Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland said this afternoon, referring to the lab where tests were processed.
“AdventHealth stopped using their lab in Texas on Sunday, they began using Diagnostic Solutions on Monday, thank God,” Flagler Health Department Chief Bob Snyder said late this afternoon, shortly after a conversation with Wally de Aquino, the chief operating officer at AdventHealth Palm Coast, who explained the situation to him. “They had concerns and they recognized a problem with the labs that they were using in Texas, for a two week period or a three week period.”
Diagnostic Solutions is a Palm Coast-based company that has teamed up with local health officials and Palm Coast to put its Georgia-based labs at Flagler’s disposal. Diagnostic Solutions produces results within a 48-hour window.
The testing affected by the Texas labs was taking place at the drive-up location set up at the Palm Coast campus of Daytona State College, run by county and health department staff and volunteers for a couple of weeks before AdventHealth took it over in large part. It is relinquishing control of that site back to the county starting next week. Testing there was conducted through so-called spit-tests, with those being tested giving samples of spit in a cup. The tests differ from pharyngeal tests conducted by taking a swab of the back of the throat, and from nasal swabs that go deep into the nasal cavity.
“Nasal is the most sensitive, followed by oral, followed by the spit,” Snyder said. “We stick with the nasal and we stick with the oral.” (The Health Department conducts Covid-19 testing at its facility on Dr. Carter Boulevard in Bunnell.)
The delays in testing results mean that the posted numbers at the Department of Health for Flagler, which have shown a significant decrease in positive results, may be skewing the numbers one way or the other.
“Today is day 15 since I had my COVID test at the DBCC drive through on 4/29,” one resident posted on Thursday in the Seminole Woods neighborhood group. “I went the same day,” another resident wrote, “got a text saying that it was delayed because of testing shortage and I would get a text with results… still nothing.. was also told that we would be able to see results in the app… nothing there.. I need something for work proving I had a test done.. not cool if they aren’t gonna give some kind of proof with a result.”
“I know 3 people who got tested 4/29 and still no results,” another wrote, and yet another: “My first test I took on 4/24 and came back positive, I took a test on 4/29 and still have no results. I took a 24 hour test on 5/5 and I still came back positive. Doesn’t matter if your positive or negative, results are taking long no matter what.”
Flagler County Emergency Management Chief Jonathan Lord had also been hearing of residents’ issues. “Folks keep asking us how to get the results. At this point in time, AdventHealth controls those results, has access to the results,” Lord said. “The EOC never has access to individual testing results, because we’re not medical professionals. That’s not the world we’d have the right to be in. But for those that did participate in the Advent one, we’re trying to get an update. You can call their virus line directly, which is 877-VIRUSHQ,” or 877-847-8747.
The Health Department’s Gretchen Smith said she will be heading teams that will call all the people who test negative starting next week, “making sure that everyone who does get tested and tests negative gets called in a timely manner,” Smith said.