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story.lead_photo.caption A sign instructs the public how to be tested for COVID-19 at the Garland County Health Unit, 1425 Malvern Ave. The Arkansas Department of Health's Local Health Units across the state began offering COVID-19 testing in May. Testing is encouraged for all individuals who believe they have had contact with or been exposed to a positive case as well as anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. There is no out-of-pocket cost for the tests, but insurance may be billed for patients who have it. - Photo by Richard Rasmussen of The Sentinel-Record

The Arkansas Department of Health said Tuesday that turnaround times for COVID-19 test results vary, but that should not discourage someone from being tested.

Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe, who makes a daily coronavirus update on his Facebook page, related in Tuesday's post that while on a call with other hospital officials on Monday, he heard that some COVID-19 testing is taking 30 days to get results back, which is a "waste." McCabe is the CEO of Levi Hospital.

ADH Public Information Officer Danyelle McNeill said different hospitals and clinics use different labs, which gives them different turnaround times.

"Private commercial labs have seen an enormous volume of COVID tests," McNeill said. "These labs are also running other health tests as well, on top of the huge number of COVID tests."

Regardless of the rumored amount of long wait times in getting results back, she said it is "definitely not pointless" for someone to get tested if they feel they need it.

"There are so many places that you can get tested now and turnaround times vary from place to place," McNeill said. "I would reach out to hospitals to find out how their testing works and what labs different ones are using. My guess is that different places are experiencing different turnaround times. Each one is likely to be a little different. Also reach out to other places that are doing tests as well, like pharmacies and doctor's clinics. I know that pharmacies like Walgreens have a very short turnaround time."

ADH's local health unit at 1425 Malvern Ave. currently has an average turnaround time for test results of 48 to 72 hours, she said.

"Every county has at least one local county health unit and testing there is free," McNeill said. "Although we do take walk-ins, we encourage people to make an appointment. With positive results, we call the person tested. With negative results, we send both a text message and a follow-up letter."

Joshua Cook, CHI St. Vincent media relations manager, said CHI works with "multiple different vendors" and is currently exploring additional options to meet their COVID-19 testing needs. Their current turnaround time for test results is roughly 72 hours.

"CHI St. Vincent remains confident that we can continue to support our patients and meet testing guidelines as put forth by the Arkansas Department of Health," Cook said.

Mandy Golleher, NPMC director of communications and marketing, said the facility provides inpatient, emergency and pre-procedure COVID-19 testing based upon physician recommendation.

"We collect the lab specimen on-site, and partner with our sister facility, Saline Memorial in Benton to process the specimen and provide the results in less than 24 hours," Golleher said. "Our facility utilizes Labcorp for the processing of some non-urgent testing, and we have been receiving those results in around 48 to 72 hours.

"National Park Medical Center's top priority is protecting the health and safety of our patients, providers, employees and community," she added. "COVID-19 testing is an important component of meeting our community's health needs and advancing our mission of 'Making Communities Healthier.'"

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