Skip to main content

Sick People Across the U.S. Say they're Being Denied the Coronavirus Test



First came the tickle within the throat. Then, a hacking cough. Then, a shortness of breath she had never experienced before. Hillary King, a 32-year-old consultant in Boston who lives down the road from a hotel where dozens of Biogen executives contracted the new coronavirus, decided that she had better get tested.

But getting tested is way easier said than done, as testing slowly ramps up nationwide. Five days after President Trump announced that anyone who wants a test can get a test, Ms. King’s experience shows how difficult it are often within the u. s. to seek out out if you've got the coronavirus.

Many who fear they need the virus have faced one roadblock after another as they fight to induce tested, in keeping with interviews with dozens of individuals across the country.

Some are rejected because they'd no symptoms, although they'd been in proximity to someone who tested positive. Others were told no because they'd not traveled to a hot spot abroad, although they'd fevers and hacking coughs and lived in cities with growing outbreaks. Still others were told a bitter truth: There simply weren't enough tests to travel around.

“The system isn't really geared to what we'd like without delay, what you're soliciting for. that's a failing,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday. “It could be a failing. I mean, let’s admit it.”

Dr. Fauci added: “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries do it, we aren't founded for that. Do i believe we should always be? Yes. But we aren't.”

In some parts of the country, demand for the tests is low. Elsewhere efforts are underway to create testing easier. States like Colorado have even instituted drive-through testing to streamline the method.

But even there, demand has far outstripped supply. By 11 a.m. at one drive-through lab within the Denver neighborhood of Lowry on Thursday, a three-hour line of cars had formed. The clinic had to prevent allowing more vehicles.

The inability to check widely within the u. s. — which is way behind other countries during this regard — has severely hampered efforts to contain the outbreak. An early test unrolled to states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was flawed, and delays have continued ever since. Public health experts have warned that every day people don't know whether or not they have the virus, they risk spreading it more widely.

In cities that have experienced serious outbreaks — Seattle; Boston; New Rochelle, N.Y. — patients who fear they need coronavirus describe Kafkaesque quests to seek out out their status.

First came the tickle within the throat. Then, a hacking cough. Then, a shortness of breath she had never experienced before. Hillary King, a 32-year-old consultant in Boston who lives down the road from a hotel where dozens of Biogen executives contracted the new coronavirus, decided that she had better get tested.

Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter

But getting tested is way easier said than done, as testing slowly ramps up nationwide. Five days after President Trump announced that anyone who wants a test can get a test, Ms. King’s experience shows how difficult it are often within the u. s. to seek out out if you've got the coronavirus.

Many who fear they need the virus have faced one roadblock after another as they fight to induce tested, in keeping with interviews with dozens of individuals across the country.

Some are rejected because they'd no symptoms, although they'd been in proximity to someone who tested positive. Others were told no because they'd not traveled to a hot spot abroad, although they'd fevers and hacking coughs and lived in cities with growing outbreaks. Still others were told a bitter truth: There simply weren't enough tests to travel around.

“The system isn't really geared to what we'd like without delay, what you're soliciting for. that's a failing,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday. “It could be a failing. I mean, let’s admit it.”

Dr. Fauci added: “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries do it, we aren't founded for that. Do i believe we should always be? Yes. But we aren't.”

In some parts of the country, demand for the tests is low. Elsewhere efforts are underway to create testing easier. States like Colorado have even instituted drive-through testing to streamline the method.

But even there, demand has far outstripped supply. By 11 a.m. at one drive-through lab within the Denver neighborhood of Lowry on Thursday, a three-hour line of cars had formed. The clinic had to prevent allowing more vehicles.

The inability to check widely within the u. s. — which is way behind other countries during this regard — has severely hampered efforts to contain the outbreak. An early test unrolled to states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was flawed, and delays have continued ever since. Public health experts have warned that every day people don't know whether or not they have the virus, they risk spreading it more widely.

In cities that have experienced serious outbreaks — Seattle; Boston; New Rochelle, N.Y. — patients who fear they need coronavirus describe Kafkaesque quests to seek out out their status.

For days Mr. Newsom has lamented the shortage of testing capabilities within the state. On Tuesday he pounded the lectern in an exceedingly live television briefing and said, “The bottom line is that we'd like more tests.”

Some places, like Missouri, have more testing capacity than demand. The state laboratory can test about 100 specimens per day but is doing but 20, in keeping with Lisa Cox, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Sixty-five people total are tested within the state, and every one but one clad negative.

But even states that have seen few cases are preserving their tests for patients who are viewed as most in danger.

“You want to be judicious,” said Dr. Dora Mills, an epidemiologist and therefore the chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, the most important health system in Maine, which has seen only 1 patient test positive, and no sign of community spread. “Any time you've got a pestilence, you've got two epidemics — you've got the epidemic of the disease itself, and you've got the epidemic of fear.”

But in places that have seen cases spike in recent weeks, many of us expressed frustration that the more likely they were to induce the virus, the less likely they were to possess access to a test.

In Washington State, where a minimum of 378 people have tested positive and 31 have died, public health officials spoke of getting to ration the tests and living hand-to-mouth with testing supplies. “At now we are limiting testing to preserve availability for our most vulnerable,” said Debra Carnes, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Columbia Network, a nonprofit health system that operates clinics in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Overlake eye in Bellevue, Wash., has been running low on nasal swabs to gather specimens from patients.

“We expected another shipment tomorrow,” said Morgan Brice, a promotion specialist.

One mother in Kitsap County, Wash., said her doctor told her that the state was so low on tests that only 1 of her children may well be tested.

That left many anxious people with mild symptoms running a never-ending gantlet: medical aid doctors referred them to state public health officials, who referred them to emergency rooms, who referred them back to medical aid doctors. Some patients said they gave up and went into self-quarantine, and had to create peace with the thought that they'll never know needless to say if they'd the virus.

Christy Karras of Seattle tried to induce tested after some people at a celebration she attended reduced with flu-like symptoms. But her doctor failed to have the test and advised her that it failed to matter whether she had the virus: Either way, she had to remain home.

“From a public policy standpoint, that’s true,” Ms. Karras said. “From a private standpoint, you actually want to understand what you've got. it had been very frustrating to me because we were all trying to try and do the proper thing.”

Finally, Ms. Karras contacted the Seattle Flu Study, a groundwork project to review the spread of influenza within the region. She ordered a kit, sent her sample and heard back: She was positive for the coronavirus. (Since then, the flu study has been told by authorities to prevent doing that sort of testing since it's not properly certified.)

Even those that have good reason to think they will be infected are being denied testing.

The Grand Princess cruise had 21 people on board test positive for the coronavirus. After docking in Oakland, Calif., this week, passengers are quarantined at military bases.

Peggy Moy, 71, a retired nurse and passenger, continues to be waiting to be tested. She had a raw throat and stuffy nose during the cruise, which she reported, but by the time she left the ship, those symptoms had gone away.

She is worried for her husband, who has carcinoma, and assumed, as other passengers had, that she would be tested as soon as she have to be compelled to the bottom. thus far that has not happened, though medical personnel are taking their temperature twice on a daily basis.

Not knowing is making Ms. Moy nervous, as many people from the ship, mostly older guests, are in quarantine on the bottom now, and lots of of them may are exposed to the virus. People are wearing masks, she said, but are still mingling in common areas, just like the lobby where people get coffee and water. They embark their masks to drink and eat.

“I would love to understand who among us is positive,” Ms. Moy said by telephone. “I don’t know. None people know.”

Yet for those that do manage to induce tested, the experience are often byzantine. Andy Carvin, 48, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, visited the Howard County General Hospital in Maryland last Thursday with a persistent fever and cough following a gathering with foreign journalists in February.

It started well. doctors had cleared a path for him to run to a back room. One doctor wore an oversized hooded mask and helmet and “looked like an Imperial Guard in ‘Star Wars.’”

They ran several tests, including of his blood. They swabbed his nose and throat about 10 hours later. on the other hand it took per week to induce the results back.

With no clear point of contact, Mr. Carvin made multiple calls — to the hospital, the state health department and two county health departments — to undertake to induce the result. Three days later, he was told that one among the 2 swabs taken had never been sent to the state. At one point, he was given the incorrect result. He called it “covid19purgatory.”

On Thursday, he finally got the great news: negative.

Comments