As Coronavirus Spreads, Many Say It Remains Hard to Get Tested

The coronavirus pandemic continues to grow across the U.S.
This is a stock image. (Getty)

Many officials have urged the CDC to provide more tests to get ahead of the pandemic.

As a drive-thru coronavirus testing site opens in New Rochelle, New York, where one of the biggest outbreaks of COVID-19 is taking place in the U.S., many people are still struggling to get tested across the state and country at large.

The drive-thru site, located at Glen Island Park, opened Friday and is operating by appointment only. The first appointments will go to those who have been quarantined and those who are elderly or have compromised immune systems, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Benjamin Perry, a Washington Heights resident who works as a minister, said the state needs to expand the availability of tests. He recently had dinner with a friend who had a close coworker who tested positive, but he said he was still denied testing.

“She reached out to me saying [I] may have possibly been exposed,” Perry, 29, told “I work with old people, babies and people who are immunocompromised or have no health insurance, so regardless I needed to self-quarantine. My hope was to get tested.”

Perry said he called the CDC hotline and after waiting a long time, they said because he was showing no symptoms, he could not be tested.

“I think it’s absolutely unacceptable. The lack of testing is absolutely unconscionable,” Perry added. "This is how you spread a pandemic. Massive public testing needs to happen. If you want to get a test, you should be able to get a test. People will die because this inaction.”

On March 6, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Raul Perea-Henze, MD., in New York, wrote an open letter to the CDC asking for the state to receive more testing kits as soon as they are available.

"NYC needs maximum testing capacity to enable successful implementation of the public health strategies that best protect New Yorkers,” Perea-Henze wrote. “The slow federal action on this matter has impeded our ability to beat back this epidemic.”

The numbers of those infected in New York has continued to rise, with 325 cases confirmed statewide as of March 12.

A New York COVID-19 hotline has been set up for people to get more information, but the hotline is referring residents to their primary physician, who then has to call the local health department to obtain a test if they need one, according to someone who picked up the phone on the line.

The Department of Health in New York echoed that residents should call their healthcare providers if they are concerned, before seeking treatment in person. 

New York isn’t the only place where a lack of testing is angering residents. President Trump had previously announced that anyone who wanted to get a test could do so, but many across the country say that hasn’t been the case.

Several people took to Twitter to talk about how they were denied testing despite showing symptoms in alignment with those the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said to look out for.

The CDC said anyone who has recently traveled to Iran, China, most of Europe or South Korea or come in contact with someone who has tested positive should get tested. They also said people with symptoms including, fever, cough and difficulty breathing, should seek testing. They advised doctors to “use their best judgment” when providing tests.

“I am a primary care provider in Texas and I have had several suspicious patients who don’t fit the firm cdc criteria so I can’t get them tested,” one Twitter user wrote.

Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, who lives in San Diego, also spoke out on Twitter.

“I’ve been sick lately (not 'sick AF' just sick) with symptoms other than COVID-19,” Hawk wrote. “But I know two friends in the U.S. with coronavirus symptoms, and they can’t get tested because they they don’t 'appear sick enough.' This means there are MANY more cases in USA than being reported.”