American Story: Why it took me 3 weeks to find out if I had a coronavirus



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American Story: Why it took me 3 weeks to find out if I had a coronavirus



LAUREN CALIHMAN of Riverdale, New York, could not be tested for coronavirus for several weeks because she “did not meet the criteria,” even though she was at a gathering at which five people were infected. She adhered to self-isolation, but was disappointed with the protocol, which should prevent the spread of the infection, CNN reports.

When she decided to go to bat mitzvah in early March, where Jewish believers celebrated her girlhood, there was no serious condition in the United States and there were not many cases of infection, but soon the number of infected people began to increase.



Experts advised everyone to be tested to stop or slow the spread of the infection, but Lauren's case showed that it was not as simple as it sounds.

Fun with an unlucky twist

A few days after the bat mitzvah, another New York case of a new coronavirus was confirmed in New Rochelle, the city from which most of the party guests were and soon became a contaminated area. At the time of the Bat Mitzvah, the coronavirus was new to the US – a terrible threat from Washington that could head east.

“People were seen to be much more cautious about contacting others and more concerned with hygiene. Still, they still danced and held hands in circles that were typical of Jewish celebrations. There was nothing strange about that, because no one then from New York was not diagnosed with COVID-19 and the risk was not high enough to cancel events and insist on social distance, a few days later I was in disbelief when I heard that a man from New Rochelle was positive, but he wasn't was at the celebration so I thought no one was threatened there, “says Lauren.

A week later, after a full week of work, volunteering, going to yoga, and other usual activities, she found out that at least five guests were celebrating positively and that the Health Bureau had asked everyone who had been at the party to self-isolate for 14 days.

“By caring more for my elderly relatives than myself, I accepted that I had to be quarantined and took unpaid leave of absence at work,” she recounts.

Fighting for testing

Lauren, like many of her compatriots, doubted that the US government was ready to fight the epidemic, especially because the promise that about 1.5 million tests would be completed by the end of the first week of March.

“I called the Department of Health and found out that quarantine means I need to stay home all day no matter what, unless I need medical treatment and that I don't need to receive visitors. I was surprised when they told me after I told them their symptoms, said they would visit me within 48 hours to test myself. I waited, sure they were on their way to me and thankful that I was quarantined at home and not on a cruiser like Diamond Princess. My pleasure evaporated when no one showed up after 48 hours, “Lauren recounts.

Although she was first told that she would come to test her, on her second call, she was told that she was not a priority, that she was a sixth-grader of seven, and that they could no longer tell her with certainty whether and when she would come to test.

A local clinic that performs tests

“I was happy that they thought I was not a priority, but also aware that it was the ninth day since I was exposed to the infection and I felt it was important for them to understand my status and all the possible consequences. When it was confirmed that Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, was infected, I had a few more days of quarantine, two weeks had passed since I was exposed and time was running out. Every hour, new cases were reported, which meant people were being tested somewhere, “she says.

She was then able to find out that the local clinic was performing tests, so she announced she would come, and on that occasion she was told that a test would be made if she “qualified” for it.

“Five days since I was last in the sun, I packed my bag full of disinfectants and set out on a 40-minute walk to avoid putting anyone in danger on the bus or taxi. Only when I got into the waiting room and saw the blue masks all around myself, I got a real picture of what's going on, “she recounts.

The doctor examined her and pointed out that she did not agree with the Institute for Health and considered that she was one of the priorities, but could not test it because it did not meet the “criteria” of the Food and Drug Administration.

For someone to qualify for the test, it needed to have a temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius and blood oxygen levels should be below 95 percent. Lauren had a temperature of 37 and 99 percent oxygen in her blood.

The doctor advised her to stay a week longer in quarantine and to call the next day in case something changed.

Unwavering to test

The next day, she received a call from the same doctor, who explained that they did not have enough resources and that they had to follow the protocol.

“She told me that a colleague of hers, a pregnant doctor, was rejected when she asked to be tested for COVID-19 even though she had serious symptoms. Even the health care professionals did not know how to be tested,” Lauren says.

She then decided to pull some ties, to eventually get a call from a doctor who had to refuse to test her and told her the criteria had been lowered and she finally qualified for the test.

“The new doctor told me that out of the 30 he tested today, I was one of two people he thought could be positive. My pulse was accelerating, which indicated a fever I didn't notice when I was at home. When he listened to my lungs, he said that my right lung was sounding heavy and lacking in air. respiratory problems because of being an asthmatic I didn't even notice I was having trouble breathing, “says Lauren.

Results in five to seven days

They tested her that day and said she would get results in five to seven days.

“It's been almost three weeks since I was exposed to the virus and almost two weeks since my first attempt to test myself. Given the worldwide spread of the virus, this is an unacceptable and potentially dangerous amount of time. If the result is positive, three weeks is enough time to infect a few more people and thus endanger hundreds and thousands of others.This experience has taught me that often as individuals we cannot always spot the exact symptoms without the help of a professional.

In addition, I realized that none of us can keep the infection under control if there is no good protocol. Everyone at risk should require a change in the way they are treated at the time of infection so that we can deal with it as effectively as possible in the future, ”Lauren concludes.

American Story: Why it took me 3 weeks to find out if I had a coronavirus

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