How long does a pregnant woman have to wait to find out if she does or does not have the Zika virus?
A town hall in Miami on Thursday night made it clear the Florida Department of Health has been significantly understating the amount of time it takes.
For weeks, Florida Department of Health officials have said Zika test results will be available to patients in one to two weeks. In fact, as recently as Thursday afternoon, the department's daily Zika update gave the one- to two-week timeline. But in a town hall Thursday night, a department representative said results are actually taking much longer.
The town hall took place at Temple Israel in Miami. With WLRN's Tom Hudson as moderator, Florida Department of Health representative Dr. Lillian Rivera initially stuck with the one-to-two week timeline.
"The Department of Health, I believe, has said it’s a one- to two-week waiting period at this point. Is that still accurate?" Hudson asked.
"Yes, that is still accurate," Rivera replied.
But then another panelist, Dr. Chris Braden of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said some types of testing can take several weeks. Questioned by Hudson, Dr. Rivera said the Department of Health has begun telling patients results take longer.
"It could be four weeks, it could be five weeks," she said. "We are preparing them for that."
When Dr. Rivera was asked after the panel why the Department of Health has stuck with its one- to two-week timeline, she apologized. She also said the number of samples coming in has created a backlog and -- echoing Braden -- that some tests take more time to complete.
"I do promise you that we’re going to come up with the true number so that people can understand what the expectation is," Rivera said.
Rivera said the four- to five-week timeline is accurate for the majority of patients.