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What's behind the long waits for COVID-19 tests and results?

11Alive spoke to a doctor about what's causing the lengthy waits.

ATLANTA — Sick with symptoms and stuck in line - the complaints about the long waits to get tested for COVID-19 are growing by the day.

11Alive spoke to a doctor about what's causing the lengthy waits, and the short answer seems to be - the high demand for tests and time it takes to process them.

In DeKalb County, for example, almost 2,000 people got tested, a huge increase from just last week.

11Alive spoke to Dr. Brent Harris who runs a clinic doing COVID-19 testing. He said the turnaround on the tests is really complicated, as well.

"[The test gets] picked up at our clinic at the end of the day, it gets transported to Birmingham, Alabama, then it gets shipped to the Carolinas to be tested," he explained.

RELATED: Mom furious after she says 4-year-old daughter was denied COVID-19 test

Plus, Harris said if people test too early, they may get a false negative result.

"By day five - five days after infection - you still have a fifty percent chance of getting a false negative test result," he said. "Even though we know you have it, you swab one hundred people, and fifty of them are going to come back negative."

He said those same people then may get retested when their symptoms persist.

And going into the the holiday weekend, Harris said he only expects to see more cases of COVID-19.

So, if someone does want to get tested, the local health departments in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties said it's best to register online first. Some days they might be able to get in to get tested right away, other days, they'll have to wait. But all of the local departments said they can meet the demand for tests at this time. 

RELATED: ‘Not a second wave’ | Gwinnett County tries to explain surge in new COVID-19 cases

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information. 

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