Macon couple says MAJL Diagnostic Lab took 6+ weeks to return COVID-19 results

 The 13WMAZ newsroom has received messages from over a dozen people who say an Atlanta-based lab is taking weeks to return results.

Now, a Macon couple has recently received their COVID-19 test results after waiting 6 weeks to hear back from MAJL Diagnostic.

On July 13, Tony Long, Jr. and Michael Stewart waited for over two hours in the hot weather at the Community Church of God in Macon, all to get a free COVID-19 test. Both say 6 weeks went by before they heard back from the lab.

Up until Wednesday afternoon, Stewart says he still not heard back.

“What difference does it make now? Because that was six, seven weeks ago,” Stewart said.

He finally got his negative result once he called the lab after our interview.

The representative told him the reason was because they were backed up. For Tony Long, it took contacting the church last Friday to try to get some results. Friday afternoon, he learned he tested negative.

“The fact that it’s taking so long, I don’t think anyone waiting as long as we have… that it is being effective for them,” Long said.

On Tuesday, MAJL sent a statement to 13WMAZ saying all results from tests given in July have been sent out.

Though MAJL is giving the tests, they are using an outside lab to process them. During the month of July, some of the equipment that MAJL needed to process those tests were on back-order, according to Lisa Cloud,  the lab’s director of operations.

“We are no longer sending specimens to the lab that had the extended delays in July.  The reference labs we work with now are guaranteeing results in 4-5 days,” Cloud said in an emailed statement.

Stewart says he wishes MAJL was more transparent when they were waiting to hear back.

“If it’s going to take longer to process tests,  at least, [MAJL has] everybody’s contact information, you could have shared that information at least to say, you know, ‘This is taking longer than we anticipated. We apologize,'” Stewart said.

Stewart and Long echoed concerns heard from other people tested in July who reported the problem to 13WMAZ. Stewart says the lab could have given people a “false sense of security.”

“If they didn’t hear back from the results, then that may equate to, ‘Oh, I don’t have it,'” Stewart said.

“I’m sure there could have been people there that tested positive and have gone out and possibly infected someone else, and not quarantined, and, yeah, I think that is that is a disservice,” Long said.

The lab says they’re now promising results within 5-7 days once the lab receives the specimen, and that they also have COVID-19 equipment in now. They’ll able to process some tests in-house within the next two weeks, Cloud said in an emailed statement.

Also in that statement, MAJL says they have returned results from tests given in August within the promised time unless there was an issue such as an inconclusive test.

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