March 26, 2020
To Whom it May Concern:
I would like to share my experience trying to get tested for Covid-19 in New Rochelle.
I am a woman in great health, aside from environmentally-induced asthma. I live in New Rochelle with my significant other, and work as a contracted special education teacher in New Rochelle public schools and daycare facilities. I know that I was exposed to at least one person who has tested positive for the virus.
Last week I started experiencing a dry cough, chest congestion, stomach issue, a loss of my sense of taste and a greatly diminished sense of smell. On Sunday, March 22, my symptoms intensified and were accompanied by severe headaches, body aches, light-headedness and sweating.
The testing facility is just steps away from our condo making me acutely aware of the need for an appointment as I hear bull horns all day long reinforcing this message to those in cars approaching the drive-thru site. I contacted my physician on Monday, March 23 and was given a prescription for a test. I called the NY COVID-19 hotline to request an appointment and was placed on hold for one hour and twenty minutes. When I connected with a person, I was told that I could go to LabCorp because I had a prescription. I then hung up and contacted LabCorp and discovered that they do not collect the specimens for COVID-19, rather they process them. I called the hotline number again, and after more time on hold, I gave my information to the intake representative who informed me that someone would call me back with an appointment. For the remainder of that day we watched the lines of cars approaching the drive-thru testing site and listened to the state trooper turn cars away for not having appointments or because their names were not on the list.
On Tuesday, March 24, we witnessed a very empathetic trooper turn what he stated through his megaphone as “hundreds of cars away”, because their names were not on the list. As the day progressed he asked for the telephone number that they received the appointment from and said it was a “scam”and it was being investigated. He was apologetic but could not let them pass. Around 3:30 pm on Tuesday, I received a call from a Hampton, NY number. The young lady on the phone initially said I missed my appointment; when I assured her I never got a call back, she indicated that she was new and had to wait for her supervisor to figure out what to do. Eventually, it was determined I did not miss and I was given an appointment for Wednesday, March 25 at 3:30 pm. I voiced my concern about what we were witnessing regarding the number of people being turned away despite having appointments and she assured me that my appointment was secured. I did not receive an email confirming the appointment nor was I made aware that I should expect to receive one.
On Wednesday, March 25 at 3:15 pm, I got on the queue and when it was my turn, my heart sank as I was told that my name was not on the list and to call the hotline number again. This trooper was clearly short on his patience, having turned so many away, and provided no additional assistance.
Instead of being tested, we spent the balance of Wednesday afternoon making phone calls, being transferred and placed on hold, having a call dropped and starting all over. My significant other was finally successful in speaking to someone who said all she could do was take all my information again and resubmit. I am back to square one, where I was on Monday, waiting for someone to call me back and put me on the schedule – this time hoping that they remember to add my name to the list.
I am so upset and frustrated because, feeling so ill, it was a struggle to go to my appointment. I am grateful it was right outside for me but my heart breaks for all the people we witnessed who had driven much further and waited longer in line, only to be turned away due to their names not being on the list.
I recognize that this is uncharted territory, and feel people are trying their best but are stressed and uncertain from the newness of a system that was hastily created for this crisis.
I just want to get tested because not only am I sick with many symptoms of COVID-19 , I am sick with worry about the fact that I may have spread the virus to my significant other and countless people in the schools and community, all of whom I want to notify, if indeed positive. This morning (Thursday, March 26) I have started reaching out to folks who I may have exposed and have heard from several others that they have encountered similar scenarios while trying to get tested.
Any assistance you can provide with expediting my test and helping others with their situation would be greatly appreciated.
New Rochelle, NY