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Gov. Ducey calls out Sonora Quest for coronavirus testing backlog

(AP Photo/Matt York, Pool)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey called out Sonora Quest Laboratories on Thursday, saying the lab giant needs to “step up their game” to eliminate a hefty backlog in coronavirus testing results.

Sonora Quest, which performs about 80% of Arizona’s diagnostic testing for COVID-19, had a backlog of 29,000 tests as of Thursday morning, according to its dashboard.

“There has been a backlog. I find it unacceptable,” Ducey said during a press conference. “We are having very candid discussions with our private labs on how to clear these backlogs and to make certain that people now only get a test in a convenient way in places around the state, but that they get their results on a timely basis.”

The backlog has hurt the state health department’s ability to quickly turn around test results and to perform contract tracing measures.

It has also complicated the state’s long-term testing goal for the lab giant.

The hope was to be able to process 35,000 tests per day by the end of July and 60,000 by the end of August.

Sonora Quest now anticipates it will be able to process 21,000 tests by Aug. 3, 30,000 tests by Aug. 9 and 60,000 tests by the end of August.

“We still continue to see delays, which is frustrating for public health because we would like to get those turnaround times faster so we can do the contact investigation and make a difference in slowing the spread,” Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s public health director, said.

Sonora Quest expects to fully eliminate the testing backlog by Sunday.

The total of pending tests has decreased by about 30,000 in the last week, according to the lab giant.

New testing lines that are expected to be in operation by next week should also help expedite the testing and results processes.

More than 1.1 million COVID-19 tests have been reported in Arizona as of Thursday morning, with 170,798 documented cases.

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