The Plane is Boarding, Where Are Your Test Results?

“We’re seeing unprecedented demand for BinaxNOW and we’re sending them out as fast as we can make them,” said a spokesman for Abbott, the company that produces BinaxNow.

The uncertainty has some people hedging their bets, setting up multiple tests in case one doesn’t come through in time. Alle Pierce, a Palm Springs, Calif.-based travel adviser and the founder of Gals Abroad Getaways, recommended making an initial testing appointment through a primary care doctor and coming up with a backup plan, which could involve making a second appointment or scoping out a walk-in clinic, as Ms. Yi and Mr. Tracey were forced to do last-minute, in case those results don’t come back in time.

If you are able to find a site offering a quick turnaround, “expect to pay more,” said Ms. Pierce.

Dr. Zhou understood the need for that strategy, but encouraged promptly canceling any additional testing appointments as soon as you’ve received your results.

“Try to make sure that you’re not overbooking and then not showing up to those appointments,” she said. “That leads to less availability for appointments for others.”

Percia Safar, 31, an investor in Los Angeles, ended up paying $670 for two rapid antigen tests and a number of at-home tests in advance of an international trip. Her process was further complicated by a possible Covid exposure 10 days before she was meant to fly. In addition to self-testing at home daily and getting an antigen test five days after exposure, she needed to line up either a P.C.R. test taken within 72 hours of her departure, or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours. She said she found it nearly impossible to find a site offering P.C.R. tests that guaranteed results within her window — her local CVS Pharmacy was quoting a two-to-four-day turnaround.

A CVS spokesman said in a statement that the company is “continuing to meet the demand for Covid-19 testing, even with increasing numbers of patients seeking tests. He added that results are generally available within one to two days, but “may take longer due to local surges in Covid-19 cases.”

“I think I’m allowed to get some of that reimbursed by insurance,” said Ms. Safar. “And obviously, it was a privilege that I was able to pay out-of-pocket. But it’s a lot. I can’t believe that cost falls on us.”

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