Several hospitals in California and New York and other US states have been hard hit with the shortage of test kits needed for coronavirus. With almost 100 infection cases and 12 coronavirus deaths in the United States, healthcare workers are confronted by a chaotic situation in hospitals.
They fear that they might be exposed to treating patients, and they also fear they might infect others if they do not know they are infected during the course of their medical duties.
Many healthcare professionals blame the federal government for their slow response to the issue and insist there is no way to stop the spread of the disease if test kits are not made available. The government had promised that almost one million test kits would be available this weekend, but the department of public health across several states said they are still waiting to see that happen.
Public health experts said without the test kits, they will not know the direction the epidemic is headed and where to focus attention on stopping it. They said the availability of kits would aid quicker control of the spread and a complete halt to it. Medical doctors and nurses are facing a difficult time working with patients who might have suspected cases, and the restrictions for testing are another problem in their way.
An emergency room doctor in Downey, California, said he handled a patient with clear symptoms of coronavirus, but the authorities would not allow for him to be tested for confirmation. The doctor said he went from the patient to another patient with compromised immunity and that he may have exposed her to coronavirus if he had been exposed himself.
“I went from that patient into the next room, where I had an 80-year-old, immune-compromised, diabetic patient,” the doctor said. “If I’m taking coronavirus in there, it’s mild for me, but it’s deadly for her.”
Considering that California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency earlier this week because of the spike in coronavirus cases, only 516 people have been tested for the disease in the state. Meanwhile, about 1,250 Californians may have been exposed to the disease on a cruise ship with possible infection cases, while more than 9,000 people in the state just returned from countries where the epidemic is high.
Most of these Californians have not been tested, and they fear to infect their friends and families in the case of possible infection.
A 34-year-old woman in Los Angeles had high fever and pneumonia which her doctor suspected to be coronavirus. She has not been tested but she self-quarantined herself at home and waiting to hear from the public health department on how to be tested. But no one contacted her, and she fears to infect others if she really has the disease.
“I haven’t been contacted, I haven’t been tested,” she said. “I’m not being treated and I’m still exposing people by staying here at home. I live with family – they have jobs, they have schools. I’m sick with something obviously.”