CAP Survey of Laboratories Confirms COVID-19 Testing Challenges, Supply Shortages, and Excess Capacity

  • 06-MAY-2020


WASHINGTON, DC—The College of American Pathologists (CAP) surveyed laboratory directors of clinical laboratories nationwide regarding the rate of COVID-19 testing, key barriers to expanding testing, and the impact on pathologists and other laboratory professionals. The survey confirms that while clinical laboratories are expanding testing, over 60% of laboratory directors report difficulties in obtaining critical supplies needed to conduct COVID-19 testing.

According to the survey:

  • Nearly 60% of laboratories nationally are providing COVID-19 testing.
  • Nearly 80% of the laboratories providing COVID-19 tests reported that they have the capacity for more testing than their current levels.
  • Laboratory directors responding to the survey expect their COVID-19 testing volume to increase by about 40% over the next two weeks.

However, the survey documented that laboratories face substantial challenges in obtaining supplies necessary for COVID-19 testing.

Of those laboratory directors responding to the survey:

  • 69% reported difficulty in acquiring test kits to conduct COVID-19 testing.
  • 66% reported difficulty in acquiring nasopharyngeal swabs.
  • 62% reported difficulty in acquiring viral transport media/universal transport media to conduct the tests.

Laboratory directors surveyed also reported increased stress on pathologists and laboratory professionals as a result of longer work hours, leading to an increase in burnout.

Additionally, all laboratories are facing substantial financial stresses, regardless of whether they are providing COVID-19 testing. Nearly all laboratories surveyed reported substantial losses in revenues, including the need to furlough employees in some cases.

The CAP’s survey, which was fielded between April 23 and April 30, is the first to gather frontline data on the burdens pathologists and the laboratories they lead are facing in responding to the national emergency. The CAP surveyed 3,784 laboratory directors from CAP-accredited laboratories nationwide and received 434 responses in seven days for an 11.5 % response rate. About 65% of the respondents are from hospital-based laboratories; of that, 43% are based in nonacademic hospitals and 22% are based in academic hospitals.

“Pathologists and their laboratories are working tirelessly to offer tests and accurate diagnoses as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold of this country. But they need additional support to fight this pandemic and support from the federal and state governments,” said Patrick Godbey, MD, FCAP, president of the CAP. “According to the CAP’s survey, many laboratories nationwide have excess capacity to test for COVID-19 but are struggling to acquire the necessary testing supplies. The CAP is committed to working with government leaders to get these supplies to our pathologists and relieve some of the financial stress so we can get our country moving again.”

About the College of American Pathologists

As the world’s largest organization of board-certified pathologists and leading provider of laboratory accreditation and proficiency testing programs, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. As a 501(c)(6) membership organization, the CAP is the only entity representing pathologists with unrestricted advocacy capability and a political action committee, PathPAC. For more information, visit to watch pathologists at work and see the stories of the patients who trust them with their care. Read the CAP Annual Report at