Quarantined nurse in California warns 'not enough is being done' to combat coronavirus

Quarantined nurse in California warns 'not enough is being done' to combat coronavirus
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A quarantined nurse in a northern California facility said Thursday that they have not been tested for coronavirus due to issues with the federal government’s bureaucratic roadblocks.

“As a nurse, I’m very concerned that not enough is being done to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” the nurse wrote in a statement shared by their union, the California Nurses Association. 

“I know because I am currently sick and in quarantine after caring for a patient who tested positive. I’m awaiting ‘permission’ from the federal government to allow for my testing, even after my physician and county health professional ordered it.”

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A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were of the individual case and couldn't respond to specifics.

"However, CDC would most definitely recommend a health care worker who had contact with a confirmed case and then became ill be tested. At all times, clinicians have discretion to test patients based on their individual assessment of that patient’s illness and risk of exposure. Our clinical team working with state and local health departments to assess Persons Under investigation has not said no to any request for testing," the spokesperson said.

The Department of Health and Human Services and Vice President Pence’s office did not respond for comment. Pence has been placed in charge of the White House’s response to the virus. 

The nurse said they experienced symptoms of the virus after caring for a patient who was known to be positive for the virus, despite following training and wearing the protective gear recommended by their employer. 

First, the CDC said “they would not test me because if I were wearing the recommended protective equipment, then I wouldn’t have the coronavirus,” the nurse said. 

“What kind of science-based answer is that? What a ridiculous and uneducated response from the department that is in charge of our health in this country,” they said. 

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The nurse said they were later told the issue is with “something called the ‘identifier number.’” 

“They claim they prioritize running samples by illness severity and that there are only so many to give out each day. So I have to wait in line to find out the results,” the nurse said. “This is not the ticket dispenser at the deli counter; it’s a public health emergency! I am a registered nurse, and I need to know if I am positive before going back to caring for patients.”

California is one of the hardest hit states in the country by the virus, with 36 reported cases, according to the CDC

Senators pressed CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials on delays in testings during a Tuesday hearing. 

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told senators he expects a private manufacturer to ship 1 million tests to non-public health labs by the end of the week. He said it would vastly increase the number of people who can be tested. 

The CDC said public health labs will be able to test up to 75,000 people by the end of the week.