Despite being told by her doctors that she “most likely” contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19) after traveling to Italy, a Miami woman said Monday that state and federal health officials refused to authorize an official coronavirus screening.
Instead, she was sent home and told to self-quarantine.
The woman, who requested anonymity, told CBS Miami that she had just returned from a week-long trip in Northern Italy, where several towns have already been put under lock-down, in the wake of Europe’s biggest coronavirus outbreak.
According to the woman, she flew home to Miami on February 26, adding that she was already “feeling unwell” by the time she left the European country.
The woman said she was not screened at the airports in Miami and Madrid, even though she already manifested several symptoms such as a severe sore throat, a headache and a mild cough earlier that same day.
As relayed by the woman to CBS News, she stayed at her home for the next two days before calling her physician, who then advised her to go to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami to check if she had the coronavirus.
The woman, upon arriving at the hospital, said she was immediately admitted and tested by health workers she described as wearing protective gear.
“Very quickly I was placed in a room. And they started diagnostic testing. Everybody who was coming into the room was very well protected with goggles and all the necessary protective gear,” the woman said.
Her preliminary results showed she tested positive for two earlier strains of the coronavirus.
According to the copies of her test results, which she shared with CBS Miami, the woman tested positive for earlier strains of the virus – coronavirus 229E and NL63.
The woman then said that her doctor told her that based on her initial results and symptoms and compounded by her travel to northern Italy during the outbreak, he was “confident” that she would test positive for the COVID-19 strain.
Her doctor, however, told her that they wouldn’t know for sure unless she undergoes a test conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
There was only one problem: That test would not be done on her because she was not considered to be in a “high-risk” category. The woman in question is in her 30s and is considered “healthy.”
“The doctor himself told me that, you know, he thinks that the results of my tests mean that I most likely have the COVID-19, but that the Department of Health did not want to pursue it further,” the woman said. “It was either the Department of Health or the CDC that decided not to further pursue the inquiry. But I was basically told that it is most likely that I have this virus and that I should self-quarantine.”
“Obviously, I would have liked to know if, in fact, I have this virus,” the woman said in her CBS Miami interview.
“The doctor said that there was basically nothing he could do,” she said, noting that her doctor, who recommended that she get tested, “was quite frustrated” with the whole situation.
According to the woman, all she was given after being denied screening were face masks.
“I was given masks, I was instructed to wear the masks. I was asked to self-quarantine. I was given a note not to go to work for a number of days. And that was pretty much it,” the woman said, adding that she was told that if her fever increased or if her symptoms grew worse, she should return to the hospital.
A similar case was reported by the National Review in which officials from the University of California Davis Medical Center revealed that they had asked for a patient to be tested for days, but were denied by the CDC because “the patient did not fit the existing CDC criteria.”
Following the airing of the Miami woman’s story with CBS Miami, five Florida residents have now tested positive for the new coronavirus, while a man in Santa Rosa County was a “presumptive positive” for the virus, Florida governor. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
The five residents are currently under quarantine in Washington state after traveling from China, according to DeSantis.
“They’re not going to be released from quarantine before testing negative, so we don’t anticipate that having any impact on the people actually living in Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement.
DeSantis, meanwhile, said the man in Santa Rosa County is elderly with severe underlying health conditions.
According to DeSantis, while the man had indeed been traveling internationally, he did not disclose the places he had traveled to. In addition, as the man’s case is still a presumptive positive one, DeSantis said it will still need confirmation from the CDC. (Related: Coronavirus spreads to NYC, Texas, New Jersey, Tennessee and Nevada as epidemic sweeps across America.)
Figures released by the Florida Department of Health showed that seven Florida residents and one non-Florida resident have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. In addition, there were 69 test results pending and 31 negative test results, with 248 people being monitored.
According to the DOH, a total of 948 people in the state have been monitored to date.
Florida had previously come under fire for its weeks of silence on the coronavirus, particularly its plan on preventing the spread of the new disease, as well as the number of people that had been tested or were being monitored for it.
Scott Rivkees, Florida’s Surgeon General, previously said state law protecting individuals’ private health information prohibited him from releasing numbers at a much earlier date.
As of press time, the CDC pegs the total number of coronavirus cases in the US at 99, with total deaths pegged at 10.