Monroe County offering PCR testing for school kids, results still slow for adults

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’re an adult and you need a PCR test for COVID-19, you’re likely not going to get rapid results. Monroe County is speeding things up for school-aged kids but adults are still going to have to wait a day or two or sometimes longer.

Kristen started feeling sick the weekend before last.

“I woke up with a fever, cold-chills, coughing and not feeling good at all so, I did the broth and juice and everything and just rested Sunday and went to Urgent Care on Monday,” she told News10NBC.

She’s a school bus driver so for the safety of her students, she wanted to make sure she didn’t have COVID. Kristen was swabbed at a UR Medicine Urgent Care in Penfield last Monday.

“They sent it off and they said they would let us know in MyChart so, I waited and waited and I was getting frustrated,” she said.

By the middle of last week, she still didn’t have the results.

“It’s just ridiculous, I missed five days of work and today — so, six days of work and we can’t do that we’re bus drivers we got to get right back out there as soon as you’re feeling OK,” Kristen said.

She got her negative result seven days after her test. UR Medicine says more than 99% of patients receive their test results within 48 hours. Kirsten’s case, a spokesman tells News10NBC, is an exceptionally rare situation in which results from her sample were not reported with the batch of other samples processed from the day she was tested. UR Medicine has since contacted Kirsten to apologize for the delay.

But there is no question there has been an increase in demand for PCR testing.

That’s because all school employees and students who show any COVID-19 symptom must meet the following criteria before being allowed back in school:

  • Feeling better.
  • Fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
  • Provide proof of a negative COVID PCR test.

“Practically speaking, this requirement is keeping a lot of kids without COVID out of class– kids who are feeling better, whose symptoms are gone but because of the high demand for PCR tests and the lab time to process the results they are unfortunately still staying at home,” said Dr. Michael Mendoza, the Monroe County Health Commissioner.

That’s why Monroe County has started offering rapid PCR tests at its clinics for students; they are processed on-site rather than through a lab with results available in about two hours. Currently, the PCR tests through the county are only available for students who need one to return to school, not for school employees.

Something else that may help with the increased demand for PCR tests is that school districts in Monroe County will start getting equipment on Wednesday to run rapid PCR tests themselves. They’ll need some time to train but most believe they can get the programs up and running within the next few weeks.