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Not qualified: Residents have COVID-19 symptoms but can’t get tested

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ILLINOIS (WREX) — The number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket in Illinois, though cases in the Stateline are relatively low at the moment.

What about the people in our area who have symptoms , but can't get tested?

Elizabeth Knitter can hardly get through a full sentence without coughing, same goes for Latrice Mitchell. Both Stephenson County residents are currently in home quarantine.

"I'm quarantined to my room and the bathroom, my family brings me food," Knitter said over a video call Wednesday afternoon.

Knitter and Mitchell both have symptoms identical to those of COVID-19.

"Horrible body aches, coughing, my chest was really tight, a very dry cough," said Knitter. "Running a fever, I still have a fever."

"I have a fever, I have diarrhea, chest pain, a cough and shortness of breath," said Mitchell over a video call.

Both had the same tests, pneumonia, strep and flu with the same result.

Negative.

When it came to getting a COVID-19 test, they couldn't.

"Because I wasn't 55 or older, she said they weren't going to test me," said Mitchell.

"They told me I didn't qualify for a COVID-19 test," Knitter said.

Director of Hospital Medicine at Freeport Health Network, Dr. Clarence Parks says this is common here and across the country.

"We are only testing patients if there is a determination for hospitalization and treatment," Dr. Parks said. "For those patients that need to be hospitalized, that's where the high priority is made for testing."

Dr. Parks says this is how testing is prioritized nationwide. The guidance from the federal government is to test people who have the highest chance to need hospitalized treatment.

"We would love to test every patient, but that's not the current recommendation at this time," Dr. Parks added.

Until then, people like Latrice and Elizabeth will have to stay home and wait for better days.

"I'm not really afraid because I'm a christian," said Mitchell.

"It's lonely, but I'll be okay," said Knitter.

FHN does have a web tool to help identify symptoms of COVID-19 and it is currently offering drive thru testing.

Dr. Parks says if more testing sites become available in the future, or the government changes its policy, more people could be tested.

James Stratton

James Stratton is the Evening Anchor at 13 WREX and reports for 13 Investigates He joined the team in August, 2018 after working at KWQC TV-6 in Davenport Iowa. His work in Illinois and Iowa has been awarded in both states, along with Edward R. Murrow and Emmy Awards at 13 WREX.

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