New COVID-19 testing swabs approved for use

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — More than 195,000 Hoosiers have been tested for COVID-19. Some residents across the state are raising questions about the type and effectiveness of testing swabs at some of the newer sites.

Our 13 Investigates team answers those questions and has tips on what to do to track down missing test results.

Questions about swab testing

From the Danville Armory in Hendricks County to Grand Park in Hamilton County, there are questions about the lack of ​Nasopharyngeal testing. That's the test requiring a long swab up into the nasal cavity.

Instead, more sites are using shorter swabs to collect samples from the tip of the nostril.

Alan Stolz was surprised to see it at an OptumServe testing site. OptumServe is conducting testing at 50 armories statewide.

"Tested on both sides of the nasal passages with a swab. Not the real long ones, the regular size swabs," Stolz said.

A Hamilton County resident told 13 Investigates she was concerned and asked: "Are we spending millions of dollars on a test that may not be good?"

13 Investigates went in search of answers.

What 13 Investigates found

In mid-April LabCorp received emergency use approval for the first "at-home-sample" test kit.

The kit includes a specific "Q-tip style cotton swab" that's less intrusive.

In it's approval the FDA said: "We worked with LabCorp to ensure the data...from at-home patient sample collection is as safe and accurate as sample collection at a doctor's office, hospital or other testing site."

LabCorp provides testing for the State Department of Health.

State health officials tell 13 Investigates the nasal swabs being used are approved by both the FDA and the CDC.

On May 5, the CDC updated its guidance for COVID 19-testing that lists the exact specimen collections that are acceptable. That list includes the following:

  • A Nasopharyngeal specimen or throat specimen.
  • A nasal mid-turbinate specimen, with a flocked and tapered swab.
  • And an anterior nares or a nasal swab specimen, like those in home collection kits using a flocked or spun polyester swab.
  • And finally there's a Nasopharyngeal wash or aspirate that is also approved.

Waiting on test results

In addition to the swabs, Hoosiers also wanted to know why their results were not being provided.

Some who got tested through OptumServe were left waiting for more than 10 days with no answer.

Alan Stolz was one of several who contacted 13 Investigates.

"The people that are taking care of the test should have an idea where the tests are after you take them," said Stolz, who grew frustrated trying to find out what happened to his test from May 8.

Right now, OptumServe has more than 5,700 results pending. It’s unclear how long some of those results have been in a pending status.

The Indiana State Health Commissioner said the agency is working to put “more boots on the ground.” Already, 40 additional nurses are headed to Indiana to help improve efficiency at some of the armory sites.

“We've been working closely with OptumServe to ensure that we are maximizing testing opportunities, and to address some of the challenges that we've encountered. This includes things like shifting some locations to higher traffic areas across the state,” Dr. Kris Box said.

Stolz and his daughter finally received their results after 13 News aired their story on Monday.

In a statement, the State Department of Health said it would "continue to work with OptumServe to ensure individuals who are tested receive their results."

If you have waited longer than 72 hours and have checked your spam filter, the State Department of Health directs you to contact it's call center.

For Missing Test Results:

ISDH Call Center: 1-877-826-0011