Conn. woman says doctors won’t test her for coronavirus; officials say resources are for severe cases

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MADISON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Connecticut resident who spent days in the New Rochelle, New York, containment zone says she’s showing signs of coronavirus but can’t get anyone to test her for the illness.

After returning home to Madison, Karen Siclari said she, “started out with fever and aches.”

Siclari said she contacted the State Department of Public Health but was told she did not fit the guidelines for testing. She said her primary care doctor referred her to a Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 hotline, and after a day of back and forth, Siclari said she was told she would not be tested.

She felt she was putting others at risk, despite her self-quarantine.

“My husband wanted me to get tested because he has someone he works with who has a compromised immune system,” explained Siclari.

Her husband’s coworker is recovering from cancer, and Siclari’s son attends a local college that has not yet canceled in-person classes.

They’re shutting everything down and everything’s being canceled and yet we don’t know who has it and who doesn’t. There’s a lot of disconnect, to put it mildly.

To have the Governor go on TV and say that this is all under control, “we have the first confirmed case in Connecticut and we have plenty of test kits available,” to make a big media event out of it on Friday and then Monday morning for me to be told I can’t get tested.

Karen Siclari/ Madison

The Governor’s office said no state has the capacity to test everyone who is showing symptoms. Their test kits come from the federal government, and so far, state authorities have only received two kits.

The testing issue was a focal point of an afternoon press conference Wednesday. The state epidemiologist, Dr. Matthew Cartter made it clear that the State DPH will only test hospitalized patients.

Cartter says anyone in the Southwestern part of the state who is showing symptoms such as fever and cough should assume they are infected with COVID-19.

“This is taking all the resources of our lab. The focus is to keep the hospitals open. Protect our health care workers,” said Cartter.

Said Siclari: “After many phone calls, I realized there isn’t any testing available in Connecticut unless, of course, someone is hospitalized and really, really ill. Fortunately, I’m just home and sick.”

Cartter put partial blame on the New York State Department of Health, which he says is sending mixed messages to Connecticut residents who work or travel in New York. New York has a higher capacity for testing than Connecticut.

“They are recommending Connecticut residents to be tested who do not have symptoms, and telling Connecticut residents to go back to Connecticut to get a test. They’re in a different place than we are,” he said.

Cartter said he has been in touch with New York State health officials.

In a statement, Yale New Haven Health reiterated Cartter’s sentiments, that they are not testing patients with no or low-risk exposure per CDC guidelines:

We cannot discuss or disclose any patient health details at any of our facilities due to HIPAA. However, we can tell you that our current process is to refer any patients of concern for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to our telehealth call center which is staffed by our experienced clinicians. The patient is then assessed via phone for risk factors such as age, symptoms, travel history, and any potential exposure history.

We are not testing any patients with no or low risk exposure. We may ask them to stay home for a period of time and self-monitor for symptoms depending on their level of risk. This process is consistent with the CDC recommended guidelines for evaluating potential Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) exposures.

Yale-New Haven Hospital

However, family doctors WTNH spoke with Wednesday say they’re seeing private labs like Quest Diagnostics get their testing process going.

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