Lack of Testing Supplies Hides Virus' Reach | CAI

Lack of Testing Supplies Hides Virus' Reach

May 5, 2020

Many health and government officials say that knowing the extent of the coronavirus outbreak is key to reopening the economy, and the best way to know the extent of the problem is through testing.

But hospital officials on the Cape and the Islands say that testing, while it has gotten better, is still limited.


David Tager, chief medical officer at the Community Health Center of Cape Cod, says that there is a lack of testing especially when it comes to presumptive cases that may only have mild symptoms. 


If someone's roommate or family member they live with tests positive, they can't necessarily receive a test until they too have symptoms, like a dry cough or a fever.


People with symptoms like a runny nose or a soar throat -- less common symptoms of Covid -19 -- so far have not been able to receive tests. Until a few days later when they do have a fever.


The Community Health Center recommends their patients with symptoms to Cape Cod Healthcare for testing. While no one has been turned away from the test center, Barnstable County Health officials say, the guidelines for receiving testing is still very specific.


In another problem area, Dr. Tager also says that some patients have recovered from Covid-19, but can't go back to work because their employer requires a negative test. 


But the chief medical officer says that they do not have enough tests for some presumptive cases, never mind someone that has recovered.


The Center for Disease Control has recommended guidelines for when someone is no longer symptomatic and can return to work. Patients must wait three days since a fever has dissipated, and at least 10 days must pass since symptoms first appeared before they recommend returning to work.


The Community Health Center will also be a part of a new state initiative aimed at contacting people that have tested positive, and to track anyone that may have come in contact with them.


Dr. Tager says this could be a big step to knowing the extent of the virus' spread in the region.