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How the test result process is different for COVID-19 and the Delta variant

It's worth noting that the Delta variant isn't the only strain researchers are trying to find.

NUECES COUNTY, Texas — If you get a COVID test right now, all you're going to get back is a negative or positive result. If you're testing for the variant, though, more steps are needed and that process could take weeks.

"All of the positive cases, they all get reported to us here at the health district and what we do is we do contact tracing for those positive cases and then if we have a person of interest or a case of interest, then we'll ask them to come in," said Dr. Kim Onufrak with the Public Health District, 

After that -- they take another test.

"We get it and then we have to pack it and send it off," Dr. Onufrak added.

It's then sent to one of two locations.

"We have to send it off to Department of State Health Services, which is in Austin, or we send it to Texas Tech, a lab there," Dr. Onufrak said. "Those are the only two labs in Texas that we can send it to."

The samples are sent to the lab through overnight shipping, but the part that takes the longest is getting the samples tested because there are other samples to test from all over the state.

"If there's only two labs that are available to do this testing and we have more and more cases that need to be sequenced, then there is going to be a backlog," said Dr. Onufrak.

It's worth noting that the Delta variant isn't the only strain researchers are trying to find.

"Lamda is starting to come up as a variant of concern, you know, the different strains that are coming out of the UK, the one that we had in Washington," she added.

Once the testing is complete, the Health District gets the results instantly, but this process could take even longer with more samples being sent to the labs.

"With our cases rising and our hospitalizations rising, that we need to know if this is because it's the Delta variant," Dr. Onufrak added.

She said she hopes the county will be able to test for this new variant, but until then, samples will continue to be sent to labs in Austin or Lubbock.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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