Many who fear they have the virus have faced one obstacle after another as they try to get tested, according to The New York Times, citing interviews with dozens of people across the country.
The experience of sick people that the Times interviewed underscores how difficult it can be for people in the US to find out if they have the coronavirus, despite President Donald Trump’s announcement five days ago that anyone who wants a test can receive it.
Some people were rejected because they had no symptoms or had not traveled to a hot spot abroad, even though they had been in proximity to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus or had fevers and hacking coughs, the newspaper said.
And others were simply told there were not enough tests to go around.
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now, what you are asking for. That is a failing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday in testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform.
“It is a failing. I mean, let’s admit it,” Fauci told lawmakers. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we are not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we are not.”
The US is far behind other countries in carrying out widespread tests on potential patients, which has severely hampered efforts to contain the outbreak.
Pence predicts thousands of more coronavirus cases in USUS Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday defended the Trump administration’s new restrictions on travel from European nations.
Hillary King, a 32-year-old consultant in Boston, Massachusetts, told the Times she spent five hours in the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital on Wednesday after experiencing a hacking cough and tickle in the throat, but was denied a test.
A doctor told her she did not meet the criteria since she had not traveled abroad or had any contact with a person who had tested positive.
The number of tests in Massachusetts were said to be so scarce that even people who were in close contact with some of the dozens who tested positive at a recent Biogen conference have not been given the test.
In Washington State, where at least 378 people have tested positive and 31 have died, public health officials have rationed the tests due to a shortage of testing supplies.
“At this time we are limiting testing to preserve availability for our most vulnerable,” said Debra Carnes, a spokeswoman for PeaceHealth Columbia Network.
US health experts have criticized the Trump administration for initially downplaying the epidemic and lagging behind in testing efforts, making it difficult to gauge the full scale of outbreaks in the United States and curtail transmission of the virus.
More than 1,300 US cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and 33 people have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
US Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said Thursday thousands of more people across the country would be infected with the coronavirus in the coming days.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pointing to the over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries and territories around the world and the sustained risk of further global spread.