Cough Cough WTF Cough

Here’s How Bad the U.S. Coronavirus Testing Crisis Really Is

A good-spirited Twitter thread demonstrates, first-hand, a very, very bad situation.

3. 9. 20 / Foster Kamer
CDC/Victor Tangermann
Image by CDC/Victor Tangermann

A New York City woman named Rachel Figueroa had a not-so-fun weekend when she took herself to urgent care with symptoms that would lead anyone with access to news that she might have contracted the COVID-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus — you know, the one currently putting the entire planet on edge.

A few hours later, she still had the symptoms, but no official diagnosis. Why?

Let’s start at the beginning. Figueroa, a fun Twitter follow — and the brilliant mind behind longtime NYC-inside-joke parody account @ElBloombito — went into urgent care with, well, this:


Testing and diagnosis are both key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. By identifying those who have it, health care localities are able to treat them appropriately while also isolating them and telling those they’ve had contact with to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure (thereby reducing others’ potential exposure to the virus, and its potential to infect more people).

So you’d think: This is someone who would definitely get tested, immediately.

Try again.




Mind you: There’s no evidence to suggest that anybody in New York City’s Chinatown has COVID-19. Chinatown, NYC is not to be confused with actual-China, the country where the outbreak started. Anyway:


Fifty minutes after the first Tweet:

And then:


Now, here’s where you might think: Okay, she’s been tested for COVID-19 and is a confirmed case. We’re on our way to a full resolution, here. And you might think that because that’d be the normal, correct, sane course of action. And yet:

Whence of the COVID-19 test? Well:


That’s correct: No. Other. Tests. Reminders:

1. Testing is crucial to treating the sick and slowing the spread.

2. On Friday, March 6th, a day before Figueroa went to urgent care, the White House: “Anybody who wants a test gets a test.


3. Testing appears, statistically speaking, to save lives:

Whether that’s because more positive tests changes the ratios of fatalities to recoveries, or because more positive tests gives people more information and more of an ability to quarantine and isolate remains to be seen.

Both outcomes are likely; both outcomes are also likely the reverse of what’s happening in America. Why?


That might explain it.

[Also, seriously, follow Rachel Figueroa as she documents her experience in self-quarantine with a healthy amount of cheek, and @ElBloombito, a true New York City fabuloso.]

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