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Quest Diagnostics warns of delayed turnaround times as testing “soars”

Mike Florio breaks down the issues the NFL and NFLPA still have to work out when it comes to testing and containing COVID-19 in locker rooms.

The largely unimpeded spread of the coronavirus will complicate significantly the ability of pro and college football to safely operate in 2020. The more frequently football players are tested, the greater the strain that will be placed on the broader testing resources.

With the virus spreading, more and more Americans are getting tested. As more and more Americans get tested, more and more strain is placed on the testing resources.

Case in point: Quest Diagnostics issued a statement on Monday explaining that the “soaring demand” for COVID-19 testing will slow the time for providing results.

For the highest-priority patients, Quest’s average turnaround is “slightly more than 1 day.” For everyone else, the average turnaround time is “7 or more days.”

As recently explained, the NFL realizes that issues could arise for teams like the Chargers, Rams, Cardinals, Texans, and Cowboys, each of which are located in cities that are experiencing significant spikes in positive cases.

Although Quest expects to increase its testing capacity, the reality is that the demand likely will go up, too.

‘We will not be in a position to reduce our turnaround times as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase dramatically across much of the United States,” Quest said. “This is not just a Quest issue. The surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole.”

Separate and apart, then, from whether outbreaks could derail the NFL or college football season is whether the laboratory industry can accommodate the widespread and repeated testing of football players without infringing on resources available to the general public.

While the NFL may be able to pull it off, especially if it works to boost total testing capacity in NFL cities, this dynamic could make it impossible for the nation’s college football programs to test as frequently as they need to test in order to safeguard the health and welfare of unpaid workers who already sacrifice plenty for room, tuition, fees, boards, books, and snacks.