“Last night I had a patient with clear coronavirus symptoms, but the health department didn’t think he should be tested” said an emergency room doctor in Downey who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As COVID-19 cases spike, the test kits needed to help stem the spread of the disease remain in short supply, with health care workers across California reporting widespread failings in the federal government’s response to the growing crisis.
Federal officials said nearly 1 million tests were expected to be available by the end of this week. But in California, one of the country’s hardest-hit regions with 60 cases, the total testing capacity is limited to only 7,400 through the weekend, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The inability to test widely and swiftly for the novel coronavirus has impeded the country’s ability to beat back the spread of the virus, experts say. Without testing, public health officials don’t know where the virus is spreading and where to target efforts to contain it. Twelve Americans have been killed so far by the disease.
“Last night I had a patient with clear coronavirus symptoms, but the health department didn’t think he should be tested,” said an emergency room doctor in Downey who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I went from that patient into the next room, where I had an 80-year-old, immune-compromised, diabetic patient. If I’m taking coronavirus in there, it’s mild for me, but it’s deadly for her.”