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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Coronavirus Tests Remain In Short Supply In San Diego

A San Diego County microbiologist holds a test tube containing a nasal swap f...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: A San Diego County microbiologist holds a test tube containing a nasal swap frozen in a liquid solution for influenza testing at the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory, Sept. 26, 2019.

San Diego County officials are hopeful that the will have more test kits available soon so they can get a better picture of the local coronavirus infection rate.

That may not happen for several weeks, however.

The number of San Diegans who have been tested for the coronavirus is still being counted in the hundreds not thousands.

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    The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that can infect animals and humans. It causes a range of respiratory illness, fever, cough and in more severe cases can cause pneumonia and even death.
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San Diego County Public Health Officer Doctor Wilma Wooten said it is difficult to get a test because there are not a lot that they can use.

Current rules require a person to be sick with symptoms that indicate the possibility of COVID-19 infection to be able to take a test. Then, that person has to have their doctor make a request for a test kit.

Those rules will stay in effect for the foreseeable future.

“Unless we get more tests, then it’s not going to loosen up beyond,” Wooten said. “It is based on doctor’s referral because many people that are negative and have no symptoms want to be tested. And those individuals should not be tested.”

In some cases, local officials have access to tests but require the proper solution to make them work.

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There are also local hospitals using unapproved tests, so those results can’t be included in the county’s tally.

More approved tests are not expected to arrive in the county soon, so the limits on testing will remain.

“I would love to be able to tell them that I could order the test and give them the result rapidly to help them make decisions in their life,” said Eric McDonald, the county’s deputy public health officer. “But with the lack of testing widely available. If you’re not sick enough to go to the hospital, stay at home, don’t worry about the test just manage your symptoms at home and stay away from your family members.”

County officials say the number of positive tests in San Diego is only the tip of the iceberg of those who are infected.

And the underwater part of the iceberg, people who are infected but have not been tested, continues to grow.

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