PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The federal government is vowing to expand coronavirus testing capabilities this week, but in the meantime some patients in our area are unable to get tested, even though they are experiencing symptoms.
Diana Berrent has reason to believe she has coronavirus. Isolated at home in Port Washington, she told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff she has fever and respiratory symptoms.
“The fever I can control with Tylenol. It was nearly impossible to get tested,” Berrent said.
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She described a runaround, that she tested negative for the flu, yet was still turned away without a coronavirus test from urgent care because she doesn’t meet this state criteria.
“It is a completely Orwellian system where you have to prove sustained contact for at least 10 minutes with somebody who has tested positive, which is virtually impossible to do since no one has been tested,” Berrent said.
A second urgent care center told her she did fit the criteria.
“And then left me in a parking lot unattended for hours and never got back to me,” Berrent said.
With the help of her congressman, she finally got tested. She said she feels it’s necessary to warn those she has exposed.
She will have to wait seven days for results.
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Her odyssey is not an isolated case. Congressman Tom Suozzi is trying to facilitate at-home test kits.
“It will be at least a week, because we still need to get federal approval from the FDA. And when the federal approval is received, It needs to be distributed and we need the federal government to agree that they’ll stockpile it,” Suozzi said.
Until then, Northwell Health officials say patients like Berrent can’t get tested because of the limited availability of the test.
“We are right now prioritizing our testing for patients who are in the hospital who have had known exposure and have the symptoms and need to be hospitalized, and then other people who have had contact with someone known to be positive and are symptomatic,” said Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell’s chief medical officer.
Within the week, as more labs open, symptomatic people will be able to be tested, even if they have no confirmed exposure. Until then, they’re advised to self isolate.
“We have people who want to be tested, but if it doesn’t fit and it doesn’t make sense we are gong to stand by the licensed medical provider’s decision on that,” Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said.
Mass testing on Long Island is expected by midweek. The state is working with Nassau County to open a drive-thru test site at Jones Beach that can process thousands of tests per day.
The turnaround time for results are also expected to shorten as more testing sites open locally, Gusoff reported.