I bought the COVID-19 textual content at eight:30 Tuesday night time, three days after getting back from a journalism convention in New Orleans.
“At least one NICAR attendee has tested positive for coronavirus,” wrote my colleague Liz Lucas. Several of us had attended the information journalism convention, which attracts reporters and editors from throughout the nation.
What do you do whenever you assume you may need been uncovered to a virus that’s shutting down international locations? As well being care journalists, we’re ― in idea — uniquely outfitted to know. But in actual life, determining if we’re in danger and getting examined is sort of not possible. It seems that each medical recommendation and entry to exams range dramatically relying on the place you reside and who you might be. And it isn’t instantly clear what the usual is.
I checked out my very own expertise, that of my colleagues and that of another, higher-profile figures in Washington, D.C. There was Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who was uncovered to an contaminated individual on the Conservative Political Action Conference and who later flew on Air Force One.
All of us ― Gaetz and 4 KHN staffers — had the identical downside. We confirmed no signs however have been uncovered to some stage of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Gaetz, an enormous supporter of President Donald Trump’s, was the one one in all this group examined. It didn’t appear he confronted much of a runaround. (Nor for that matter did Senator Lindsey Graham or Rep. Mark Meadows, neither of whom confirmed signs.) Gaetz bought again a unfavorable end result. Gaetz’s workplace didn’t reply to my questions on why he might get a take a look at when many common Americans can’t.
Indeed, for the remainder of us, it hasn’t been really easy. We haven’t been capable of finding out if we’re contaminated, or, for that matter, what we should always do.
The KHN crew was instructed by editors to work at home. I texted the buddies I had seen Sunday for dinner, warning them of my potential publicity. All of us are youthful than 30, which additional mitigates our danger of problems from the virus. But, if contaminated, we might be susceptible to passing on the virus to our households and associates. When these associates instructed their employers, two have been instructed to self-quarantine. Others are going about their lives as regular.
Initially, none of us had skilled any symptoms related to the virus: fever, dry cough, fatigue, physique aches. (In reality, I had gone each operating and mountaineering within the days between NICAR and the fateful textual content message.) Research means that if you’ll expertise signs, they might in all probability seem inside four or five days. It’s been six days.
Cases like mine ― wherein there’s some danger of publicity, however not a ton, and there aren’t any signs — pose a selected conundrum. Generally, the medical guideline is that, given the scarcity of take a look at kits, you shouldn’t take a look at somebody who’s asymptomatic.
I’ve beneficiant insurance coverage. But, like almost half of my peers (adults below 30), I don’t have a main care physician ― so navigating the system poses its personal obstacles.
I do have a gynecologist whom I commonly see, so I referred to as that workplace. Since it was earlier than workplace hours, the on-call physician instructed me he didn’t have the experience to suggest a take a look at both method. I might strive getting a main care physician to see me, however that might take days. He instructed I go to an pressing care facility.
The others affected at Kaiser Health News bought comparable non-answers. Co-worker Victoria Knight referred to as the coronavirus advisory line by her insurance coverage supplier, Kaiser Permanente. She was directed to an automatic reply.
“Due to increased general concerns around coronavirus, we are experiencing higher-than-normal call volume. If you currently do not have any symptoms, we encourage you to use our automated appointment system,” it stated. The message added that Kaiser Permanente isn’t testing people who find themselves asymptomatic. (KHN isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)
My colleague Lucas, who relies in Missouri, referred to as her main care physician. She was instructed that if she develops signs, she ought to go to the emergency room after which get a take a look at. (Going to the emergency room for a take a look at isn’t beneficial by most public well being officers.) She additionally referred to as metropolis, county and state well being departments, and nobody she spoke with might instantly provide steering on whether or not she ought to self-quarantine. One individual on the state stage didn’t instantly know what she meant by “self-quarantine” and stated they might look into it.
Another probably uncovered colleague, out in California, is now exhibiting some signs. She bought pretty responsive assist from county well being officers — however needed to wait till Thursday for a coronavirus take a look at.
Since D.C.’s coronavirus advisory says you need to “call your health care provider before visiting,” I phoned an area pressing care clinic. A employees member instructed I are available for screening so medical professionals might inform me if I certified for a take a look at. I couldn’t be screened over the cellphone however was suggested to verify the again of my insurance coverage card for a nurse hotline quantity. I discovered no such quantity. The card did recommend an pressing care go to would require a $40 copay.
My final wager: I referred to as D.C.’s well being division. When I defined my state of affairs — mentioning I had no signs ― additionally they instructed me I ought to go to the pressing care heart and see if I certified for a screening. The cellphone name lasted lower than a minute.
In the midst of all this, my mother and father and associates had urged me to not go to pressing care — the place, they nervous, the danger of contracting an an infection is perhaps heightened and the chances of qualifying for a take a look at appeared slim.
So, defeated, I put down the cellphone, mail-ordered extra cleansing resolution and walked over to the sink. I began buzzing the primary 30 seconds of “Call Me Maybe” as I ― per all one of the best public well being recommendation — as soon as once more washed my arms.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.