Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

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By Eleanor Fowler

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is doing our community a great disservice. There is a lack of communication and transparency regarding the testing of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Myself and many others I've spoken to have called our personal doctors and health professionals, the hospital, and the Public Health Department asking for COVID-19 testing. My doctor stated they were completely unaware of where the testing would be as they don't have them on hand and referred me to Public Health and the hospital where I received no response except automated messages.

A friend recently came back from traveling and has all the symptoms, did their due diligence by reporting to their doctor and Public Health, and nothing. No response, not testing, nothing. Thankfully they are responsible enough to self-quarantine. 

Another friend who also qualifies for a potentially positive test was told the only way to get tested was to go to the Emergency Room or stay home. For the time being he chose to stay home instead of possibly infecting others. 

It's my assumption that in Santa Barbara County, as well as all over the United States, there are many many more cases of people who would test positive for COVID-19 but since they aren't being tested the numbers are inaccurate. 

The question is, why aren't they being tested? Are there not enough test kits? If so, state that publicly and request more. Are health departments overloaded? Also state this so officials and the community can help streamline assistance to all who need it. Is our local health system completely unprepared? Doubt this will ever be admitted. 

Or is the lack of testing everyone a way to possibly prevent further panic in the community? This would be a very dangerous approach as some people's lives are at risk.

The Public Health Department is very good and putting out press releases telling us to wash our hands and stay home if we don't feel well, but where is there response when someone who is actually sick and may be infected needs to be tested? Do better!


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41 Comments

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a-1584042960 Mar 12, 2020 12:56 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

A friend who's a local journalist stated they've been relatively stonewalled by Public Health. They seem to refuse to answer the question if anyone has actually been tested. I agree, we need transparency NOW!

oops Mar 12, 2020 12:58 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

where are the liberal politicians of SB when you need them? Salud, Das, Mayor Murillo...earn your salary

a-1584044858 Mar 12, 2020 01:27 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Oops, stop politicizing this. Everyone is affected by this regardless of political preference.

sbmh2015 Mar 12, 2020 01:16 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

National problem. Dr. Fauci has confirmed this. There are not enough tests and test components. They are testifying to this right now on Capitol Hill. Unfortunately, our president is not giving out accurate information. Private labs and University medical centers are ramping up. It will be a bumpy ride. Stay safe. Social distancing. Don't rely on our local media or foxnews. Listen to NPR, Dr Sanjay Gupta, etc. Our town of Stepford does not want to report true information... unfortunately

giftedinSB Mar 12, 2020 01:58 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Dang, I knew there was a national shortage of testing kits, but the lack of response and communication is just plain irresponsible. Who knows how many people are infected and don't even know it? I was just talking to someone who works in Public Health who told me that they spent their entire day strategizing for COVID-19 response. But it would seem that they are just strategizing behind closed doors and not communicating to the public.

Giggles Mar 12, 2020 02:10 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Interesting. Perhaps the reason why no one's been diagnosed with Corona here in Santa Barbara is because there are no tests anywhere. I have signs of Corona (or it could be the flu), and I was around someone recently who just traveled back from overseas. Urgent Care doesn't have any, my doctor's office doesn't have any and said they didn't want me in the office to test me for flu, because of the risk that it is Corona. You can call the county health, but it's a recording, and you have to leave a detailed message, and if they feel your eligible they will call you back in 24 hours... I was told the only way I can get a test is if I go to the emergency room, and even then, because tests are so scarce, they may not even test me. It's hardly fair because my co-payment is $150. Why should I have to pay $150 for something that I was told was going to be free and was available? I was told that next week there will be the drive-thrus where the crews are in there hazmat suits and you get a test while you sit in your car just like in Colorado. But, if there's no tests available, how can we get an accurate count of who actually has the virus here in Santa Barbara? By the time they get these drive up free Corona tests, it's more than likely going to be rampant. <Shaking my head>

mp805 Mar 12, 2020 02:21 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Was just about to write this very thing, the message is that there are no know cases of the virus in our area but how do we know that for sure with no testing available. We need those drive through testing crews like stat! At this point any testing would be appreciated. The communication has been underwhelming which has lead to uncertainty and alarm

John Wiley Mar 12, 2020 04:01 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

According to thedenverchannel.com it opened yesterday in the Lowry (Aurora) burb, there's a "cut-off point for cars in line" with doctor's note required, and a 3-4 hour wait in line with 160 people tested per day. That would help in SB County, but at the expense of kits for CA Counties with known and strongly suspected cases. As for those 160 tests, the Denver area population is about 3 million and CO about 6 million. Los Angeles is ~18 million, CA ~40 million. Even when 7,000 functioning test kits were available daily in CA, the usefulness of even one local drive up test station is very questionable. Like you, I look forward to enough kits being available to implement drive up testing but by then even 10,000 tests daily might be a pittance.

SBCountyLocal Mar 12, 2020 02:51 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

No Reagents = NO Testing --- Our Public Health Department FAILED to disclose that there is a substantial problem with getting the reagents to even test for the Coronavirus in the City's Council Meeting on Tuesday. So much for transparency and trusting what the doctors said. The guy speaking most of the time seemed to be dismissing the threat and sounded like Trump. Utterly disgusting and am completely disgusted with the City County who could have prohibited events and other organized gatherings. We have a PANDEMIC! An article on the lack of reagents for testing came out yesterday and is posted on the LOS ANGELES TIMES: SHORTAGE OF KEY COMPONENTS HAMPERS CORONAVIRUS TESTING --- ----Testing for the novel coronavirus continues to face severe limitations, as California health officials lack key components to conduct laboratory analysis, marking another barrier in the state’s efforts to identify infectious patients. The shortfall compounds a month of sluggish progress in deploying diagnostic tests developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, if not quickly remedied, will continue to substantially under count infected patients and could hinder efforts to contain the outbreak. The chemicals, or reagents, are used to extract genetic material from a nasal swab sample, among the first steps in the testing process. Demand for reagents has left a key supplier struggling to keep pace with orders from countries around the world. ---- See the rest at: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-11/coronavirus-testing-kits-lack-key-ingredient-causing-confusion

rwelsh Mar 12, 2020 03:01 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

When we do get test kit results here in SB, just remember there are always a certain percentage of false positives and false negatives. A week or so ago in Italy the "false positives" were at around 40%. Add to that the changing strains... Maybe the delay in test kits is because they are trying to fine tune this testing process so that there isn't false paranoia. (too late??!) I agree that politicizing this is just wrong. Everyone is doing their best in this strange situation. Side note: does anyone find it ironic that the two strains are S&L? SnL?

a-1584051820 Mar 12, 2020 03:23 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

There is a lady on Twitter named Julie McMurry MPH, who states she lives in SB and that there was a positive test at a high school? Has anyone else heard this?

John Wiley Mar 12, 2020 03:40 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

For a variety of reasons there seems to be at least a one day delay in announcing tentative positives. In part because local tests are then confirmed by CDC, due to issues with false positive local test results. Our family strategy from the start is to assume there are active cases locally and act accordingly by following the prevention guidelines on the new County site. That's really all we can do at this point, since testing isn't available. Drive-thru testing will be nice when there are enough viable kits, but for now we'd just self-quarantine for any illness. Calling or going to medical facilities just exposes us more and contributes to their overload. Meanwhile, I'm glad we have Edhat as an additional community source of dialog and info.

a-1584053224 Mar 12, 2020 03:47 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Interesting I did not know about the lag in reporting. She appears to be tracking this and the "flatten the curve" thing - I also am assuming there are cases here already that we just won't know about for awhile.

jqb Mar 12, 2020 07:04 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Flattening the curve is about social distancing, self-isolation, self-quarantining, etc. so as to slow the spread of the disease, primarily so that health facilities are not overwhelmed. If a large number of cases peak at the same time then hospitals with limited ICU beds and ventilators have to start deciding who to treat and who to let die, as has happened in Italy. https://www.vox.com/2020/3/10/21171481/coronavirus-us-cases-quarantine-cancellation

Bird Mar 12, 2020 08:20 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Exactly, John Wiley: "Our family strategy from the start is to assume there are active cases locally and act accordingly by following the prevention guidelines on the new County site. " Unbelievable that anyone is wondering about the tests when NPR and all responsible media have said there are no tests in this country. As Fauci says, (in response to, "there's not one person who can assure these tests can be administered?") "the (US) system is not geared" for this. S. Korea and Iran and Vietnam are testing, but most Americans can not get the tests they need. The CDC is thought to be excellent; however, the administration cut it back some months ago and CDC apparently has not prioritized this situation. See the PBS Newshour report of today that's online. ...The doubling time of the disease is 6 days, so, every 6 days, etc. It's likely it's in Santa Barbara but without testing there's no way of knowing. The only option is to self quarantine as much as is reasonably possible....

John Wiley Mar 12, 2020 03:33 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

A 3/6 article in The Verge ("The U.S. has tested shockingly few...") says, "California is able to perform the most tests per day — over 7,000 — of any state" but that depends on supplies. As the LA Times article mentioned in a prior comment here outlines, there are far more test kits available and soon to arrive, than the "reagent" chemicals those kits need. In other words, CA (and our local/regional governments) are doing all they can. My guess as to the "lack of transparency" is that like everything else in life - it's complicated. The few functional CA test kits are probably sent to counties with known or the most likely cases, to confirm them. They don't want to encourage people elsewhere to seek tests when there are few or none, so they're in reactive mode (only test the most likely/serious cases) to attempt containment. Local and state authorities want to maximize collaboration with CDC, so they're not going to criticize or engage in the blame game. When the Covid 19 pandemic inevitably begins to ease, there will be plenty of analysis and of course also even more angry ranting about fault and blame. For now, the only viable action is prevention and the new SB County site is the best I've seen anywhere. Let's be alert, focus on positive things we can do, and work together for our mutual benefit and calm.

Get over it Mar 12, 2020 05:59 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

So why do you expect there to be test kits available in surplus nation/worldwide instantly? For an unknown virus no less. Super sad how so many expect everything to be provided for them instantly. How long would it take you to invent this test, produce it and distribute it it nationwide? Stupid Trump.

jqb Mar 12, 2020 06:28 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

The genome sequence was made available by Chinese scientists on January 10. Some other nations responded quickly and competently.

GeneralTree Mar 12, 2020 06:31 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

The short answer is a lack of preparation and poor execution by the federal government. The initial tests developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a technical problem — and federal officials were then too slow to find alternatives.

After problems arose with the C.D.C.’s test, officials could have switched to using successful tests that other countries were already using. But the officials refused to do so, essentially because it would have required changing bureaucratic procedures.

The federal government could also have eased regulations on American hospitals and laboratories, to allow them to create and manufacture their own tests, as Melissa Miller of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine told The Washington Post. But federal officials did not do so for weeks. The Times’s Sheri Fink and Mike Baker reported this week about a Seattle lab with a promising test that was blocked by “existing regulations and red tape” while “other countries ramped up much earlier and faster.”

jqb Mar 12, 2020 06:38 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Tests were delayed largely because the strategy from the tippy top of the federal government, contrary to the advice of competent health advisors, was to try to "contain" the virus ... the official word from the tippy top was that there were only 15 cases in the U.S. and that would soon go down to zero. The tippy top suppressed anything that might suggest that things were worse (such as letting the infected passengers on the Grand Princess disembark because that would increase the U.S. case count), including putting widespread testing in place. Even now, after the tippy top of the government has been exposed to the virus, the tippy top is refusing to have the tippy top be tested.

jqb Mar 12, 2020 06:53 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Editorial in Science magazine, the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the most prestigious science journals in the world: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6483/1169.full "....While scientists are trying to share facts about the epidemic, the administration either blocks those facts or restates them with contradictions. Transmission rates and death rates are not measurements that can be changed with will and an extroverted presentation. The administration has repeatedly said—as it did last week—that virus spread in the United States is contained, when it is clear from genomic evidence that community spread is occurring in Washington state and beyond. That kind of distortion and denial is dangerous and almost certainly contributed to the federal government's sluggish response. After 3 years of debating whether the words of this administration matter, the words are now clearly a matter of life and death...."

jqb Mar 12, 2020 07:31 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB4FUHHMI24 "The experiment is: Will people listen to scientists?" -- Neil deGrasse Tyson ((plus lots of other good stuff about moons and such)

jqb Mar 12, 2020 07:46 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/12/814881355/white-house-knew-coronavirus-would-be-a-major-threat-but-response-fell-short

EastBeach Mar 12, 2020 11:17 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

While politicizing mistakes don't help, sometimes calling out mistakes and untruths for what they are is necessary - how else can things be improved? Especially when so much is at stake. Last night's proclamation by the President was totally mangled. I have a friend who was supposed to leave for Europe tomorrow (Friday the 13th!) and was completely confused about whether he could re-enter the U.S. Of course Trump didn't mention that U.S. citizens were exempt. From my friends in bay area (who are all telecommuting now) ..... https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/03/11/fact-check-a-list-of-28-ways-trump-and-his-team-have-been-dishonest-about-the-coronavirus/

jqb Mar 13, 2020 01:53 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

This word "politicizing" is used in a nonsense way, and very hypocritically, by dishonest brigades trying to shut down legitimate criticism or calls for action, such as when there's a mass shooting and the NRA accuses people who call for gun control of "politicizing the shooting". And the same here, where the word is thrown at legitimate criticism of the current administration and current President, who actually does politicize things by making everything about himself and his desire to be reelected. There has been widespread criticism by people of all political outlooks of Trump's speech that was supposed to be "reassuring" but was the arch opposite, being awful in both content and delivery. Of course, people who politicize their ears and eyeballs by consuming only pro-Trump propaganda outlets such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and reject everything else as "fake news" won't know about this widespread criticism or the cause and effect between Trump's behavior and undesirable consequences. The criticisms of the Trump administration's handling of this pandemic are not motivated by machinations of electoral politics, they are motivated by concern for the wellbeing of ourselves, our loved ones, and our society. "On Friday March 6th, @realDonaldTrump
said, "Anybody that needs a test gets a test."That is 100% FALSE. Full stop. He was wrong then and it's wrong today too. Many American citizens want a #coronavirus test right now but can't get access to one. This is a MAJOR FAILURE. @POTUS" -- David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network https://twitter.com/DavidBrodyCBN/status/1238158856888496129

a-1584064644 Mar 12, 2020 06:57 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

Email response from Linda at KEYT
“I just got off the phone with the health department. They said there have been at least 6 coronavirus tests conducted within the county, but there could be more. They were saying it's impossible to track the exact number because the tests don't have to be reported to the health department unless the results come back positive. Commercial labs are allowed to conduct testing now, and they aren't considered partner health agencies with the health department. That means they wouldn't need to report how many tests they've done. The spokeswoman said the reason Ventura is able to release the number is because they have their own designated coronavirus testing lab in the county. It's actually one of just 11 of those types of testing labs in the state. I hope this answers your question. “ Lindsay Zuchelli Executive Producer KEYT|KCOY|KKFX

a-1584079897 Mar 12, 2020 11:11 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

1. Call your doctor with your symptoms. 2. If they agree it could be the virus, call ahead to Cottage Emergency at 805.569.7878 and tell them you are coming to the parking lot to get tested. They are supposed to meet you there. This was in the Noozhawk article about the Tuesday City Council meeting.

Giggles Mar 13, 2020 07:22 AM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

I called the hospital ER yesterday to do exactly that per my doctor's request. I was told not only do they not have any on site, but she wasn't really sure where s/he gets tested.

a-1584130031 Mar 13, 2020 01:07 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

I’m sorry. Call or email CJ Ward and get him on this story. I can’t tell you what to do next, but if it were me, I’d call back and say “I’m coming to the emergency room. Do you want to meet me at my car, or after I get inside? I spoke with a very nice woman at Das Williams’ office today who told me the county has thousands of test kits.

midair Mar 12, 2020 11:24 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

All the test kits are located in a storage closet at Mara Lago soon to be sold to the Federal Government at a ridiculous price. You heard it hear first folks.

Marathoner Mar 12, 2020 11:41 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

All these agencies are gaslighting us. They are trained to "minimize panic" and cultivate "trust". They marginalize whistle blowers and concerned citizens as "alarmists" so they get a pacified population upon which to administer what they perceive as their best options. Notice all the Youtubes of official press conferences that don't allow comments. And worse, the ones in which, if readers catch errors or pose uncomfortable questions, they are suddenly converted to "no commenting" videos. They are trained to obey the chain of command with military precision. The botched botched botched testing fiasco, in which South Korea and other nations have shown up the state of the USA as completely derailed, is something that they want to sweep under the rug. Good thing we have anonymous commenting because everyone here is a potentially targeted 'subversive' who is undercutting the government agenda of controlling every aspect of how people think and act. There are a few exceptions however but those most competent and sincere civil servants would agree that people need to stand up and not let tother he so called experts gaslight us. Thank you for posting the article, this testing thing is an utter disgrace.

oceandrew Mar 13, 2020 10:01 AM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

If you want Murican made kits you're going to have to wait a while longer. The kits that S.Korea, Italy, Japan and the like have been using (those issued by the World Health Org) effectively for quite a while have been rejected by the current administration. So... thoughts and prayers my friends then vote the incompetent bums out in Nov.

RHS Mar 13, 2020 10:49 AM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

It is constantly irritating to read these forms of complaint. The poster seems unaware of the facts behind the problem and has taken no apparent steps to understand the issue. Instead she writes a complaint about others whom she seems to think aren't doing their job. She is wrong. They are just as frustrated by the problem as are their patients. Please have a little patience and understanding of how these things work. (And consider what resources government has when you vote next time.)

a-1584132687 Mar 13, 2020 01:51 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

The national emergency press conference given just now promises tests will now be manufactured, distributed and available on a much larger scale, with devices like drive-through testing.

RHS Mar 13, 2020 02:59 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

What BS. "Promises" tests? What tragedies are upon us because of the weeks of delay and confusion? OK, let's go ahead but please don't forget what got us here.

jqb Mar 13, 2020 03:01 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

https://twitter.com/ThePlumLineGS/status/1238558120013705218 ""I don't take responsibility at all," Trump says, when asked directly whether he accepts Dr. Fauci's blunt claim that the lag in ramping up testing was a "failing.""

porkrind Mar 13, 2020 03:40 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

While I understand the larger significance of better understanding the spread of this disease, I don't really get the clamor for testing that we see in this thread at the individual level. The tests are not some kind of panacea.

Think about it like this. You take the test and there are two outcomes...

1. The test is negative. You'd don't have but still could get the disease. There's no vaccine. Practice good hygiene, work on social distancing, manage your risk factors. There's nothing to do differently from the 'no test' situation.

2. The test is positive. You have the disease, but there's no cure and no particular treatment. Self -quarantine and seek medical assistance if symptoms get worse. But right now, that's the same thing to do if you feel sick right now with anything. So there's little difference that the test makes.

So I suppose the test has some benefit in the case that you are infected but asymptomatic. You could know to immediately self-quarantine, and that seems helpful. But I don't see any thought that we should be testing well people at this point so who knows? Ultimately, I just don't see the frenzy in getting these test out at the individual level any more than I see the point of hoarding toilet paper. Seems to me that it's all about feeling like you're doing something more than anything else.

jqb Mar 13, 2020 04:03 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

There's no excuse for not getting it. There are hundreds of authoritative articles explaining the importance of testing. Singapore has the lowest COVID-19 fatality rate because of its massive testing.

jqb Mar 13, 2020 04:09 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/3/12/21175034/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-usa "Accurate testing is critical to stopping an outbreak: When one person gets a confirmed diagnosis, they can be put in isolation where they won’t spread the disease further. Then their contacts can be identified and put into quarantine so they don’t spread the virus if they’ve become infected, too. That’s particularly important for a virus like this one, which seems able to spread before people show symptoms, or when their symptoms are mild."

otter-j Mar 13, 2020 03:55 PM
Where are the COVID-19 Tests?

23- The twitter case mentioned above was retracted by the poster and by the re-tweeter. Politico has an article today about another reason for the delay in reporting - CDC has to re-test some positives run by public health labs. You can google this sentence the find the article - "...requires that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a sister agency, retest every positive coronavirus test run by a public health lab to confirm its accuracy. The result, experts say, is wasting limited resources at a time when thousands of Americans are waiting in line to get tested for COVID-19."

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