Marion County Public Health Department explains COVID-19 test turnaround times, announces pop-up testing site

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INDIANAPOLIS — If you are planning to get a COVID-19 test prior to Thanksgiving in hopes you will receive your results before the holiday, you are likely out of time. We must mention, healthcare experts are encouraging people to refrain from gathering with people outside your own household.

“My message is ‘please do not,’ Virgil Madden, Marion County Public Health Department’s Incident Commander for COVID-19 Testing Sites, said. “Please don’t. Stay within the bubble that you’ve been in.”

Anyone in Marion County who needs or wants to get a test is able to get one for free through the health department. They are requiring you to make an appointment online at or by calling (317)221-5515.

“How long is the wait,” Madden said.”Well if you make an appointment and you come at your time, we can get you in and tested in about 8 to 10 minutes. When you come without an appointment, we just cannot keep up. We had about 1,000 cars last week lined up. Out of that 1,000 cars, there were about less than 20% were registered, and everyone wanted to know why is it taking so long?”

Madden explained the timeline for receiving your results from the labs as well. He said at the end of each day of testing, they take the tests to the labs for those technicians to begin their process.

“It doesn’t technically get to the lab until that next business day.,” Madden said. “When they come for the test, realize okay, my test technically isn’t going to the lab until the next day. After that day, then you begin counting three to five business days.”

Madden explained that weekend days do not count in the timeline. The health department pleads for the community’s patience, and to consider the timeframe before calling them.

“They won’t leave one message; they will leave several messages,” Madden said. “They will call and say, ‘we want to talk to a supervisor because we haven’t gotten our results.’ We’ll say, ‘when did you get tested?’ They’ll say, ‘four hours ago.'”

Madden also acknowledged his concern the wait times between test and results could have a negative impact on COVID-19’s spread.

“We encourage people not to go back to their normal life because we don’t want them to affect someone else,” Madden said, regarding people not quarantining while awaiting results.

The Marion County Public Health Department is opening up a free drive-thru testing site the day after Thanksgiving after being closed for the holiday. Testing will be available by appointment only at the main location at 3838 N. Rural Street from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

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