July 13, 2020 / 11:31 AM / 22 days ago

Quest says many U.S. COVID-19 tests taking more than a week

(Reuters) - Quest Diagnostics Inc said on Monday the turnaround for COVID-19 tests it is conducting in the United States has lengthened, with non-prioritized patients waiting a week or more on average for their results.

So-called priority 1 patients - those in hospitals, pre-operative patients in acute care settings and symptomatic healthcare workers - had an average turnaround time of slightly more than one day, it said. Other patients waited around seven or more days.

Last week the company said its average turnaround time was one day for priority 1 patients and three to five days for all other groups.

Earlier on Monday, Quest said its second-quarter revenue would top analysts’ estimates, largely due to growing demand for the tests, boosting its shares 2%.

The United States has reported record numbers of new coronavirus cases in recent days, with the surge coming from states like Florida, Texas, California and Arizona.

Widespread testing is a core requirement for controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus, and test delays raise the likelihood of transmission.

The company said revenue in the quarter was around $1.83 billion, down 6% from a year ago, but still ahead of the average analyst estimate of $1.52 billion, according to Refinitiv I/B/E/S data.(reut.rs/2Zn5ieJ)

Quest said results also reflected stronger-than-expected recovery in base testing volumes, which have fallen about 34% from the year-ago quarter, excluding COVID-19 molecular and antibody testing.

The company had started witnessing a faster-than-expected recovery in its June U.S. testing volumes, after a more than 40% decline during the last two weeks of March.

Excluding items, the company expects to earn between $1.39 and $1.42 per share in the quarter. Analysts expect an adjusted profit of 12 cents a share.

Quest is scheduled to report second-quarter results on July 23.

Reporting by MIchael Erman in New York and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Rashmi Aich and Richard Chang

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