The coronavirus has become a pandemic, but the US is having a tough time coping with the crisis. Especially when it comes to testing to see if people have the illness.
One woman from Colorado, Caitlin, told the harrowing story about how she tried to get her 33-year-old husband, Jacob, tested for Covid-19. The chaotic situation she described shows that the US still has a way to go until its response to the health crisis is considered adequate.
The woman’s story was widely shared on the internet, with over 10.6k upvotes on Reddit and over 3.8k upvotes on Imgur. Some people were shocked at what they read and came to the conclusion that the current system has to be improved. For everyone’s sake.
Scroll down for Bored Panda’s interviews with Caitlin, as well as with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Image credits: CDMJ
One woman from Colorado wrote about the difficulties her husband had trying to get tested for the coronavirus
Caitlin told Bored Panda that she and her husband both feel frustrated and tired. “Our lives would be so much easier to manage if we knew one way or another if he had it. We would love nothing more for him to be negative, so we could stop worrying that we’re spreading this virus. And if he did test positive, we would at least have that to show to our employers so I could work from home, and he could take unpaid time off to recover.”
“Getting sick is never fun, no matter what illness it is. We’ve mostly been frustrated by not being able to get tested because he hasn’t ‘had contact with a positively diagnosed person.’ Our doctor has tried several times to get approval for a test, but the CDC criteria prevent her from ordering the test.”
We wanted to hear Caitlin’s opinion about why the US is having difficulties with testing for the coronavirus. Here’s what she had to say: “I am no expert, and I don’t know all the facts, but it appears that we do not have enough tests. The CDC has to keep strict criteria in place so that only those who are severely sick or highest risk can be tested.”
“Which makes sense if there aren’t enough tests to go around. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading through our country because those who are mild and haven’t traveled internationally cannot get tested.”
In her opinion, the response could be improved by making more tests and following other countries’ examples. “When more tests are available, start testing everyone who has a fever or cough. South Korea has been conducting mass-testing and seems to be working to keep the spread of the virus in check. The US should follow the example from countries where the spread has been slowed, like South Korea. This outbreak involves the entire planet, we need to stop trying to blame one another for it and start helping each other. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. We’re all human beings, we’re all neighbors, we need to take care of each other.”
Caitlin said that she hasn’t been inside a store in over a week now because she’s trying to distance herself from public areas. Just in case she doesn’t potentially spread the virus.
“I’ve been ordering groceries online and picking them up. When I went to the store last weekend, they were limiting how many cleaning wipes you could buy, and they were almost sold out. They were sold out of face masks, rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, but they still had some toilet paper and cold medicines. My sister in Dallas, Texas, said they are all sold out of toilet paper and cleaning wipes at her local grocery store. The photo in my essay was from a Walmart in Denver last weekend, when my mom was shopping for supplies.”
US politicians are frustrated about the situation with coronavirus tests
Apart from the bureaucratic hoops the couple had to keep jumping through, the other worrying thing is that the woman’s husband fell seriously ill despite having a very healthy lifestyle.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus testing system in the US has some glaring flaws. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the system isn’t geared towards what’s needed at this point in time. There are currently over 1,300 cases of the virus in the US; it has spread to 47 states.
The BBC writes that US government officials aren’t aware of the number of people being tested for Covid-19 in the country because some tests are done in private hospitals and laboratories that haven’t reported their findings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The idea of anybody getting it [testing] easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. I think it should be, but we’re not,” Dr. Fauci said during a congressional hearing.
Meanwhile, Republican senator James Lankford shared similar sentiments: “We’ve got a long way to go to be able to get rapid, efficient testing.” Senator Mitt Romney mirrored Lankford’s frustration: “You can’t get wipes for your countertop. You can’t get alcohol… and it’s very difficult to get tests.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment states that it has pandemic response plans ready to go
Bored Panda also spoke to a representative of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about the state’s response to the health crisis. “Colorado has been preparing for coronavirus since the onset. We have pandemic response plans ready to go, we have built tools and protocols to monitor travelers and other individuals who may be exposed, we have the infection control expertise we need, and perhaps most important, we’ve built strong relationships with our local public health and health care partners. Officials are working closely with CDC and organizations across the state to ensure our response is proactive, strong, and collaborative.”
“Colorado has launched an aggressive response to COVID-19. We have looked at what is working in other places and are not waiting to take appropriate action. The governor moved boldly with an emergency executive order aimed at preventing the spread of the virus and also to assure Coloradans and visitors that we are minimizing risks. $4 million dollars to immediately help response efforts in our communities. We continue to evaluate this rapidly changing situation and looking at the data to make informed decisions to keep people safe.”
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “there are sufficient kits” to manage the demand. “We are exploring various efforts to increase testing capacity, including working with hospitals and universities, as well as exploring increasing the number of lab technicians working for the state. There are also private labs able to run tests. The mobile testing center in Lowry has served more than 650 people since it opened on Tuesday.”
The Department also had this to add:
“Those who are not sick can continue to take simple preventive actions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using household cleaning sprays or wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In the absence of soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.”