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Metro Detroit hospitals dealing with shortage of COVID testing supplies

Posted at 10:31 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-14 22:31:31-05

(WXYZ) — For weeks, urgent cares have seen long lines as some people wait hours for a rapid COVID test.

“Before you would be able to find a parking spot, now it’s very difficult to find a parking spot,” said Dr. Nidal Hammoud from Get Well Urgent Care in Madison Heights.

As positive rates skyrocket, hospitals are struggling to get enough reagent needed to run the more accurate PCR test.

“Once we reach a certain limit, we can’t test anymore," said Beaumont physician Dr. Jim Getzinger. "Once we reach that 80-100 tests per day, we cant test people. We run out of reagent.”

The hospital system is now limiting how many tests they run per day, saving the reagent for those most sick.

“We have to conserve it for people who really need the test immediately," Dr. Getzinger said. "The others can be sent out, and hopefully the turnaround time will improve.”

That turnaround time is slowing down at Henry Ford hospital. Results that once took 24 hours now take 48. Doctors blame the delay on a shortage of reagent.

"We are starting to face some problems with a shortage of testing supplies,” said Henry Ford chief clinical officer Dr. Adnan Munkarah. "Definitely something we need to deal with and we are working diligently to make sure that we have the supplies.”

This test is different than the rapid antigen test done at many urgent cares. Those tests don’t need the reagent and aren’t impacted by the shortage. However, those tests aren’t always as accurate.

“The antigen test is a good test," said Dr. Getzinger. "But if you really have symptoms and it’s negative, you need to go to the next step and get a PCR test.”

That’s why doctors say you shouldn’t rely on those results if visiting family, and they are urging people to avoid close contact and wear masks to slow the spread.

“None of our tests are 100 percent, so if you have symptoms, stay home. Don't expose your family,” Dr. Getzinger said.