PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5 ) - Local businesses are dealing with the fallout of Arizona's COVID-19 testing backlog and long wait time for results, so much so that some business owners are now paying a pretty penny on their own to get rapid testing to be able to stay open.
A popular Phoenix coffee shop said it's been frustrating. A longtime staple in the Melrose district, Copper Star Coffee is used to a bustling crowd. But Wednesday, it sat quiet and closed.
"People keep saying it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better and we're seeing some of that right now," said shop owner Bill Sandweg.
The clinic, Embry Women’s Health, said they’re done waiting weeks to get results back to their patients—and say Sonora Quest should have told them they were that backlogged.
Sandweg said they've been able to stay open and serve customers safely during the pandemic despite significant revenue loss, but last week they got hit with a curveball. A staff member found out one of their friends tested positive for the coronavirus, after weeks of waiting for results.
"Went for a corona test, didn't get the results for 13-14 days. And the results were positive," Sandweg said. "That's a direct exposure for one of our employees. So we closed up the next day."
They posted a notice on social media, letting customers know what had happened and that they were working on testing all their staff. Sandweg and his team went for a test last Tuesday. At the same time, Sonora Quest Laboratories was dealing with a backlog of over 60,000 tests.
"It became really clear to us that we weren't going to get results back anytime soon," he said.
That's when Sandweg decided to spend nearly $1,300 of his own money to bring in two rapid test companies to get all of his employees tested on Friday, and have results by Saturday, which all came back negative.
"You know, what do we do? Is this a cost I'm going to have to bear every two weeks? Every four weeks?" he said.
Sandweg is calling on Arizona leadership to focus on fixing this backlog situation quickly before he has to spend his own money on rapid testing again if there's another exposure at his shop. He said Copper Star Coffee will be ready for business Wednesday, doing everything they can to get customers their coffee, but safely.
Sonora Quest was able to cut down their backlog by a third on Wednesday, with just under 40,000 tests pending. The company said it's working as quickly as possible to bring in additional testing equipment and reduce the turnaround time in the coming weeks.