ADPH: Lack of testing supplies puts case numbers outside norm

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 8:45 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Lately, you may have noticed the Alabama Department of Public Health’s coronavirus numbers are outside the normal range.

This month, Alabama has reported some of its highest and lowest COVID-19 cases and testing numbers to date.

The ADPH says the swing has no connection to the current transmission rate.

For the last three days, the state’s reported case numbers below 1,000, which is well outside the norm. The lag is due to a lack of testing supplies.

“We have some significant shortages of the testing reagents that are used in the laboratory that actually process the tests. The main testing platform that our public health lab uses has a reagent that’s been had the allocation reduced dramatically by the company that makes that reagent,” said State Health Officer Scott Harris.

Harris was referring to a national shortage.

Alabama’s receiving a quarter of the reagents it needs to run the tests, creating a sizable backlog.

“That decreases what we’re able to do now. Fortunately, most testing in the state is not done by our lab. The majority of testing is done by different commercial labs and academic medical centers and hospitals and so on. But still, they all are facing kind of their own individual issues around testing supplies,” Harris said.

August 10 was a record day with a reported 18,000 new tests. New private labs weren’t reporting tests and results to the state in the required four-hour window. When the issue was corrected, backlogged tests swung the numbers.

It’s unclear when the state will receive the needed testing resources.

The turnaround time on general tests in the state is unclear.

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