Woman with symptoms says she's unable to get coronavirus test

Posted at 5:38 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 21:55:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A local woman is having trouble getting tested for the new coronavirus.

Lindsey, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, started feeling sick with a fever last weekend. She said her boyfriend is sick too. "We had a wheezy cough on the inside of our chest, the fatigue was really the one that was so awful," Lindsey said.

She does not have a primary care physician or insurance, so she went to urgent care. She was told they did not have a coronavirus test kit to administer. Last week there were 85 tests in Tennessee, and now state officials said they have 165.

"If there’s no way to get tested, how are you supposed to know," Lindsey asked. "I just wish there was more instruction, I wish there was more reassurance that everyone would be taken care of."

Right now they're encouraging people who think they have coronavirus to call the state health department at at 1-877-857-2945.

If you are a patient or employee at Vanderbilt, you can call their coronavirus help line at 888-312-0847. The line is open 7 days a week from 7a.m. to 7p.m.

Dr. William Schaffner said Vanderbilt University Medical Center is days away from getting their own coronavirus test kits.

"I know you’re worried, but at the moment you can’t test all those kinds of people. We have to focus on people who have symptoms," Schaffner said, "There’s a pent up desire to test, and so you can imagine, lots of people are running in to be first in line, and we can’t all be first in line."

On Monday, the Tennessee Department of Health received an overwhelming amount of calls to their coronavirus help line. Officials said if the line is busy, keep calling them.

"I’m sure what’s happened, is there’s a back log of calls," Schaffner said.

This concerns Lindsey as she doesn't want COVID-19 to spread even more, "At the end of the day everyone just wants to be healthy."

To reduce the spread, doctors want people who think they have coronavirus to call ahead before they show up to be tested.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.