MACON, Ga.-- Earlier this week Governor Kemp announced a partnership with a a new diagnostic laboratory.
Mako Medical is now one of the private labs working to process COVID-19 tests for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
As of June 22, the state has conducted 1,316,844 tests. Right now wait time for results is at least 72 hours, according to the North Central Health District of the DPH.
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Michael Hokanson with the North Central Health District says while tests can take 3 days, some people don't get their results until two weeks after their test.
The Georgia Department of Public Health only has one lab in the state that processes tests. According to Hokanson, it's not designed to handle the capacity of testing that the pandemic requires.
Tests are frequently sent to private labs for processing. Hokanson says "without these private laboratories, we wouldn't be able to do this level of COVID-19 testing that we're already doing."
Two private labs currently service Middle Georgia, Ipsum Diagnostics and Quest Diagnostics.
Kemp says the demand for testing has inundated these private labs, causing slow results. The Governor calls the wait times "unacceptable."
Ideally, this new partnership will take some of the load off of the other labs the state is currently using.
Delays affect the Department of Public Health's ability to do contact tracing, the process of quickly identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to the virus.
Hokanson says in order to do contact tracing effectively, the DPH needs test results in a timely manner.
"Our contract with Mako Medical will boost test processing capabilities and enable our army of contact tracers to respond quicker to newly identified cases." Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health says.
Another speed bump to slow testing results is the increased risk of spread. If a person does not know their status, they may still be going out and transmitting the virus to others.
It prevents the DPH from being able to giving guidance to those infected on how to protect themselves and others.
Partnering with Mako Medical will lower turnaround times to 48 hours, according to Governor Kemp. The lab is providing testing supplies and services to process 10,000 tests per day.
"Locally, we still don't know what that's going to look like and how it's going to be rolled out down to our level," Hokanson says. The partnership with the new lab hasn't began yet in Middle Georgia.
The North Central Health District is hopeful the added lab will create a quicker turn around.