Who Should Be Tested and Who Should Be Not? Why?
Is the, “We are in this together” a joke or a true mantra of solidarity?
The CDC guidelines for COVID-19 testing upgrade revision of March 24th, 2020 states that due to limited information that is available to characterize the spectrum of a clinical illness associated with COVID-19, the testing has been developed based on what is known about COVID-19 symptoms. Thus, increasing testing capacity allows clinicians to consider COVID-19 testing for a wider group of symptomatic patients, but this is far from the truth when it comes to practice.
“Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be treated.”
This statement guideline from CDC bears an alarming and catastrophic shortcoming. The obvious loopholes on the CDC guidelines on who should get tested leaves a clear path for abuse. It can be used as a weapon to discriminate and deny testing to patients who otherwise needed the testing the most.
This criticism is solely based on the ambiguity of the statement guideline that leaves room for interpretation, hence counterproductive, given many stories that have surfaced about patients who were denied testing and ended up waiting and dying before they could get tested or receive any sort of medical help to stabilize or calm their anxiety. Strong emotions such as anxiety, stress, etc. that are associated with the complicity of this coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19) must not be underestimated, because those strong emotions also bring trauma and or stigma which can kill just like the disease itself.
We know that the COVID-19 symptoms are not one ‘size-fits-all’. Most people who have confirmed to have COVID-19 have developed a high fever and have respiratory symptoms such as dry persistent cough, difficult breathing, and have been rushed to the ER last minute and or sent to the ventilators without even being tested for COVID-19 because it is automatically assumed that those are the worse known symptoms of COVID-19, or there is no time to test them under the severe conditions they came with. One could assert that by the time it reached that stage, it has been in their bodies for 14 days or even 30 days. That also means they have been walking around or even in isolation not knowing that they are infected and carrying the coronavirus. Let this sink in! Have you wondered how many people might have been infected by the person(s) who shows no known symptoms until the last hour of the day when all of the sudden they find themselves in the ER or at the hospital beds, and in the ventilators?
Yet, the other group of asymptomatic people (infected with the virus but have zero symptoms) and going on with their business as usual since they have no signs of known COVID-19 symptoms. Some people who are lucky have gone through testing and find out that they are positive for COVID-19. News anchors such as Chris Cuomo of CNN or George Stephanopoulos of ABC and others reveal a disturbing truth about the missed opportunity for testing that would have saved lives, but not all people have the opportunity and access to be tested when need arise.
How many of us will be asymptomatic and sitting around in the lockdown places waiting for the symptoms to flare up or spreading the infection to others?
Another group of people is those who have suffered all the known symptoms of COVID-19, yet, unable to get tested.
I have a neighbor who has been battling this 2020 spring season’s bad flu symptoms for over three weeks now. She is a lady in her mid-50s and has underlying medical conditions-specifically she is asthmatic. She started with severe cold/flu symptoms-sneezing, coughing, running nose, difficult breathing, headaches, and flu chills. She later started experiencing temperature fluctuation, but it was yet to be alarming because she is in the group of those people who maintain low body temperature-her ideal body temperature is 96.7 Fahrenheit, and if it gets to 97.7F to 98F is a sign that fever is on the rise and the body will also reveal it (headaches, chills, and body aches).
Her worries stated to mountain up as her flu symptoms increased instead of getting better or even out of it, consider that she has been extra careful in taking care of it with over the counter medications and even homemade remedies fear that the flu may turn into COVID-19, but all in vain. Now, she was experiencing some chest pain-chest throbbing pain. This scared the hell out her! The fear that this could be COVID-19 was too much to bear at times. As she worried whether she has it or not, she decided to take proactive measures to start inquiring about testing so that she can be sure whether she has it or she doesn’t. In the meantime, she is becoming aggressive in incorporating the over the counter cold/flu medicines with the homemade remedies she knows about and those currently trending on all social media. And there is no shortage of what to do at home to fight COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that has produced a worldwide variety on how to curb COVID-19 from your home: from eating right, staying healthy and homemade remedies for COVID-19.
But what she did not anticipate was how difficult it is to get tested even when you exhibit all known symptoms of COVID-19.
She wanted to get tested to keep her sanity intact-to ease some of the emotions that come with COVID-19, and after she has been battling that flu for sometimes, and even though the real fear awaits everyone when you get tested and results come positive.
After she inquired further and further about how she can get tested she was finally told by her doctor that since she was not over 65 years old and or in critical condition to receive the testing, she was not qualified for testing for COVID-19.
Think about it! Your doctor can deny you the COVID-19 testing regardless of your known flu-like symptoms which are like those of COVID-19. She was devastated and scared as she wondered if she has it or not which has continued to be mind-boggling to contain.
Testing patients who show all known symptoms for COVID-19 is supposed to be considered as a First Aid and a measure to prevent the spread of this pandemic.
Giving a total mandate to one person/your doctor on such a big responsibility of life and or death of another person, to determine if the flu symptoms you have warrant you COVID-19 testing or not, and especially during the biggest crisis of our time unfolding before our eyes is a recipe for disaster, for it infringes the rights of other-the the most vulnerable and least fortunate one.
Priorities for testing should and must solely be based on the known symptoms the person is experiencing and not age or be told to wait until you are in critical condition. And undoubtedly, if a person has also underlying medical conditions, that too must seriously be considered. CDC stated it clearly on its guideline priorities-Priority 2, “Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms” as one of the priorities that warrant a patient testing for COVID-19. Here, her doctor used his discretion to determine who should be tested and who should not be tested and in doing so, he violated her rights to be tested according to CDC Guidelines for testing patients.
Unfortunately, due to denial and delay in testing for COVID-19, some people have been affected severely and their health deteriorated quickly and lost the battle to stay alive in the present of COVID-19.
It serves no good to deny people the COVID-19 testing when they have the known COVID-19 symptoms while it is known that there is no cure yet. That simple testing can make a difference between day and night in the mind of the COVID-19 sufferers.
It will make a huge difference to test people: One, it helps to calm their emotions- anxiety, fear, concerns-Do I have it, and or many frustrations of all the unknowns of the COVID-19; not to mention the lockdown experiences, that come with this mysterious COVID-19.
Second, it is a smart way to prevent further spread of the virus, because doing testing will isolate those tested positives from the community of people who don’t have the virus from being infected while allowing them access to care for themselves at the right time and a right place.
When you know you have tested positive, you make a drastic adjustment changes to your life to well address your need to battle the virus mentally and physically effectively.
It makes a big difference when you know something than when you don’t know. We are now living proof as we live in isolation that we have to adapt to new ways of living to cope and curb the threat of the COVID-19-but we can only do so effectively when people are tested especially those who have known symptoms.
The possibility of a high number of infected people hiding in plain sight is real, and the danger we will face later especially with the increase of suspicions as we learn more about the virus, whether the vaccine/drugs will be available soon, how safe and effective the vaccine/drugs will be; people already experiencing the mistreatment with the COVID-19, whether being forced to accept testing for COVID-19 vaccines as in China where cases of abuse and violation of peoples human rights have surfaced as they force a certain group of people to take the vaccine; or simply people will lose trust with their government leaders and or their doctors to come forward for testing even if they have the known symptoms; again China is already facing this resistance -first, people are afraid of quarantine, second, they are afraid of discrimination, and last but not least, they are afraid of the treatment they will receive-vaccine itself when it is available if indeed is safe and its effectiveness.