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Lack of local tests frustrates officials, patients

ELKINS — The scarcity of COVID-19 tests for use by Randolph County healthcare facilities is causing frustration for both health workers and some sick residents.

“The lack of or unavailability of COVID-19 tests right now is real,” Tracy Fath, VP of marketing and development with the Davis Health System, told The Inter-Mountain Wednesday. “I think this probably causes frustration for people because, for anybody, it’s the peace of mind.”

As of 12:50 p.m. Wednesday, DHS had tested 17 people for the coronavirus. So far, officials have received only negative results, but some tests are still pending, Fath said.

She noted DHS is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for determining who should be tested.

Jordan Godwin, CEO of Valley Health Care, explained Wednesday there are a list of priorities that health care providers must follow before administering tests for COVID-19.

“We are authorized to give tests; however, the people that are tested must meet CDC guidelines,” he said. “That’s due to the number of tests available across the country, which is an issue everywhere.”

Godwin declined to say how many individuals Valley Health Care has tested.

At the top of the list of priorities, according to the CDC, are hospitalized patients and healthcare workers who may be in contact with infected individuals.

Below that, in tier two, are patients in long-term care facilities, individuals 65 and older, patients with underlying conditions and first responders.

Most other individuals fall into the third tier of priority, and all must present with symptoms to be considered for testing.

A local couple is asking how sick someone has to be in order to get tested.

Mike and LeeAnn Stowe of Randolph County recently traveled to New Jersey to visit family during an emergency and lodged in a town with confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“As we were on our way home, my mom was texting me and telling us that the hospital where my grandmother was… there’s an oncologist there who’s positive for the coronavirus,” Mike Stowe said this week.

As the family was returning home, LeeAnn Stowe began to feel ill and quickly developed a fever and chest pains, he said. After arriving back home, she sought treatment at Valley Health Care.

“They tell her she’s got two partially collapsed lungs,” Mike Stowe said. “They tell her she has a very severe upper-respiratory infection, she has a fever, she has all the other symptoms that go with this virus; however, they stopped short of (testing).”

Mike Stowe also suggested that his wife visit the Davis Medical Center drive-through clinic and “they said (she) didn’t meet the criteria.”

“I have never, in 10 years of our relationship, seen her this incapacitated,” he said.

The Stowes have three children, ages 9, 7 and 2, and are concerned about passing any potential viruses along to their kids. LeeAnn Stowe is on bed rest and quarantined to the home for the time being.

“We were put in contact with the state Department of Health and Human Services, who acknowledged that the simple fact that we had been out of state was enough to warrant testing,” Mike Stowe said in an email to The Inter-Mountain this week. “However, after several phone calls between them and their directors, we were told there is nothing they can do.

“We need available tests to determine who may have this virus so we can prevent it from spreading to our neighbors,” he said. “The measures in place are simply not enough and the general public is in danger.”

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