The volume of testing for COVID-19 in Alberta has more than tripled since July. That high demand is causing longer than normal wait times for results – and for workers in the province who don’t have the benefit of paid sick leave – those wait times can come with a price.
At least one grocery store clerk in Edmonton is paying that price right now.
Alyana Patterson told CTV News Edmonton she began feeling symptoms consistent with COVID-19 last weekend, 24 hours after her 18-month-old daughter came down with a fever.
“I wanted to get tested,” Patterson said.
On Sunday, the 27-year-old mother of three did just that.
“I started having difficulty breathing, so I went to the hospital,” she said. “They tested me there but they said that there’s a backlog, so it’s going to take four days to get a test result.”
Now she’s at home awaiting her results.
“My employer, I called them to let them know,” said Patterson. “A lot of ‘hmms’ and ‘hahs’ and ‘oh, I didn’t know it took that long to get a test.'”
According to Alberta Health Services (AHS) spokesperson Kerry Williamson, over the last seven days AHS labs have been averaging 11,000 COVID-19 tests per day.
Williamson said that number has increased from about 3,000 tests per day in July, 5,000 tests per day in August, and 10,000 tests per day for the first week of September.
“Most patients are receiving their results within 48 to 72 hours and we continue to take steps to increase lab capacity for processing tests,” the AHS spokesperson told CTV News Edmonton in a written statement.
One month ago, AHS guidelines on who can get tested changed. The province is no longer testing asymptomatic people or close contacts.
As for Patterson, her results may come back positive, meaning she would have to stay home anyway. Still, she says the COVID-19 testing capacity in Alberta leaves her wanting more.
“We need to be testing more, we need to increase testing.”
On Tuesday, Alberta reported 1,434 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.