Demand for testing is high but there is a lack of equipment for testing, many Covid-19 testing facilities in the US are in turmoil.
Feeling unwell on March 13, Miss Rachael Willingham went to see the doctor. The doctor ordered her to be tested for corona virus and directed her to a mobile clinic set up by the Colorado health department.
When she got there at 9:45 am, she saw 6 policemen blocking the entrance to the clinic. Ms. Willingham returned that afternoon, but informed that the examination had ended today, she told the Wall Street Journal.
Willingham called the state health agency and was asked to return at noon on March 14. She did exactly as instructed, but upon arrival, the clinic was moved to the Denver Arena. She turned around and went there just to wait for nearly two hours with hundreds of other cars and was denied a test without any explanation.
“This makes things worse,” the 29-year-old girl told the Wall Street Journal. “It scared us.”
“Give opportunities to the most seriously ill”
When Covid-19 broke out across the United States, state and local governments were tasked with carrying out virus testing. And they were quickly overwhelmed.
Due to the lack of equipment and the rapid spread of disease, the testing facilities are operated in a discrete manner. At the present time, many places have limited testing and use their limited resources to test only those most vulnerable.
The test will help infected people get treated and health officials can monitor the spread of the virus. But it was proceeding slower than necessary, in part due to the federal sluggish response.
This situation is happening every day throughout the United States. Americans cannot get help from local governments.
The mobile lab in Denver that Ms. Willingham tried to get was transferred to Colorado by Telluride mountain town about 6 hours away. State skiing sites have been badly affected by the virus. Officials say they have no plans to reopen the lab in Denver and have focused on testing the most vulnerable people across Colorado.
This state can process about 250 samples per day. But too many backlog samples left after 5 days for the results to come out.
After extensive testing, Minnesota officials decided that only medical staff, inpatients and residents of the dormitory would be tested on March 17, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The high demand for testing makes it impossible for people to be tested to become infected,” said Kris Ehresmann, a member of the Minnesota state health agency.
“Providing testing opportunities for the most seriously ill people is the right thing to do,” she said.
The state government was forced to freeze 1,700 samples due to a lack of test kits, Governor Tim Walz said on March 18. “We do not have the capacity to test.”
On March 18, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem also said the state laboratory was temporarily forced to stop processing samples because it ran out of supplies.
Noem said the state has been trying to get more chemicals to handle the sample for weeks and even asked Vice President Mike Pence for help.
When the first cases appeared in the United States, all samples were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it took a long time to get results.
After a sharp increase in the number of cases earlier this month, the new federal government allowed state and local governments, as well as private companies, to conduct tests themselves in hopes of speeding up the process.
But localities have encountered a lot of problems when implementing this. Many areas lack test kits. In some places, there is a lack of protective equipment for health workers to sample. And the number of people waiting to be tested in every state is a nightmare.
The states of Minnesota and New Mexico have called on the federal government and manufacturers to assist in obtaining supplies such as protective clothing and test kits.
The Trump administration, meanwhile, says it is changing its strategy to prevent outbreaks from testing to social isolation.
Private laboratory is also overloaded
In Ojai, north of Los Angeles, Colleen Byrum, 61, tried to be tested after she had a fever of 39.5 degrees Celsius last week. At first, she called to Ojai Valley Community Hospital and was directed to the parking lot for testing. But when she arrived, she was told she could not be tested and went to see a doctor on March 16.
Mrs. Byrum called the emergency room and gave the CDC number. When she called this number, she received an automated message telling her to call again on March 16. After calling the emergency room again, she got the county’s emergency response number but no one answered.
The emergency room finally told her that she did not meet the criteria to be tested because she did not go to China, did not go on a boat trip or had contact with people who were positive for the virus.
In some states, officials say testing capabilities are improving and that anyone who is sick can get tested.
This week, New York City officials said they could test 5,000 people a day on March 19 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state would also test 6,000 test samples a day.
However, even the state-owned private laboratories are struggling to meet the needs.
FoundCare, a drive-thru test site (who was tested by car to get a sample) in Palm Beach County, one of the most affected areas in Florida, had to suddenly shut down. after many days of sampling.
A FoundCare employee said the clinic was no longer making appointments because “there were too many calls but no testing equipment.”