Pre-trip COVID tests delayed

By Scott Cessar
This item appears on page 13 of the November 2021 issue.

My wife and I planned a trip to Antigua for July 10-17, 2021. Antigua requires proof of a negative RT-PCR test for COVID taken, at most, seven days before entry. As such, my wife and I went to our local CVS Pharmacy on a Monday, five days before our Saturday morning departure, and had the nasal swabs administered. We fully expected to receive our test results from CVS no later than Wednesday morning.*

However, by Thursday there were no test results reported, and, most disconcerting, no one at the CVS branch or at CVS’ Customer Service had any idea where our tests were. In other words, in this day of barcode scanning, CVS had no mechanism to trace where our test swabs were located and when the results would be reported.

Faced with this predicament and after multiple phone calls, we went to a specialty clinic that day which, for $75 per test, promised a turnaround in 24 hours. We received the test results (negative) by email late Friday and were able to travel to Antigua the next morning.

A CVS Customer Service representative called me Saturday afternoon, after we arrived in Antigua, and apologized but said she had no news on the status of our test results. On Sunday, out of curiosity, I checked our online CVS account and saw that our test results (negative) had been posted on Saturday evening. Since we were in Antigua enjoying that fabulous island, my wife and I were able to chuckle about it.

CVS refunded our health insurance provider, which had paid for the two tests, but would not compensate my wife and me for the $150 we had spent for expedited testing elsewhere. In a letter we received from CVS Health, a representative cited a federal statute providing blanket immunity to CVS for any damages arising from its COVID services, including testing.

The lesson learned — to help prevent anxiety, ask the COVID testing facility you intend to use whether it has a mechanism for tracing the status of your test results.

By the way, we had a great time in beautiful Antigua and would recommend a trip there.

Gibsonia, PA

*CVS’ COVID-testing website states, “Results typically take 1-2 days.” However, it also warns that “High demand at the labs can lead to delays in turnaround times.”