For the Sick, an agonizing wait for tests in Massachusetts – NBC Boston

Danni Aubain has cancer, so when she started feeling lousy late last month, she was particularly worried.

Aubain said the disease hit her like a ton of bricks. He had a 103-degree fever and a horrible, dry cough.

“I really couldn’t breathe,” he said, “and that’s scary for anyone undergoing chemotherapy.”

When seeking medical attention, Aubain said that both her oncologist and a Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room doctor pushed for her to be tested for COVID19, the new coronavirus disease that spreads worldwide.

But despite their recommendations, the response they got from state epidemiologists was that Aubain did not meet the test criteria.

“They called the Public Health Department and I was told that if I couldn’t name a person I knew had a positive test and that I hadn’t traveled outside the country, I couldn’t have been tested,” he said.

In response to NBC10 Boston’s questions, Mass. General said he cannot discuss the treatment of any patient.

But Aubain’s story is like so many others streamed to NBC10 Boston investigators in the past week by spectators across the state who have not been able to take a test. Many said they experienced symptoms of the disease, such as fever and shortness of breath. Like Aubain, some have also been seen by doctors who were convinced they need to be screened.

But with a shortage of test kits available in the state until the end of last week and with restrictive guidelines in place by the federal government, many said they were frustrated, scared and confused as to what to do next.

Federal officials are rapidly increasing the nation’s infrastructure to test COVID-19 this week after a series of missteps hampered the country’s ability to control the virus as it migrated from its epicenter in China to destinations around the world. As of Monday, there have been over 4,000 disease cases reported in the United States, which have so far seen over 70 deaths.

On Monday, health officials in Massachusetts announced that around 1,300 people were tested for the disease and 197 tested positive.

The state’s ability to test patients has increased significantly in the past few days when federal officials have granted Massachusetts clearance to begin testing the samples at the state’s public health laboratory, rather than sending them to a centralized, managed location. by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Federal officials also expanded their testing guidelines, offering doctors more discretion to order a test for the virus, and last week they shipped around 5,000 additional test kits to Massachusetts, easing local supply.

The CDC has also published new guidelines that allow doctors and nurses to subject a single nasal swab to tests, rather than a nasal swab and another sample from the patient’s throat. The change is expected to allow Massachusetts to double its testing capacity, bringing the number of tests conducted every day from 200 to 400, public health commissioner Monica Bharel said at a press conference on Sunday.

The Food and Drug Administration, which must approve the test sites, also granted permission at the end of last week to a couple of private companies – Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp – to begin testing samples collected from patients in Massachusetts. Massachusetts hospital labs are expected to launch their testing programs shortly.

“With more and more clinical labs in Massachusetts working to gain FDA approval, more online capabilities will also be available soon,” said Bharel on Sunday.

Federal officials say the United States is now on track to test thousands of patients a day for the virus after falling far behind other countries in its efforts to detect the virus.

Independent research cited by the CDC indicates that the United States had completed approximately 20,000 tests as of March 13. That number pales in comparison to the aggressive testing effort in South Korea, which has a much smaller population, but has tested around 15,000 people per day.

While the United States is ready to learn more about the extent of the pandemic soon, many in the Bay State who fear having contracted the disease say they believe the government has missed an important opportunity to help curb its spread.

“I have a couple of friends in my social circle who are experiencing flu-like symptoms and are just writing it as flu,” said Rita Czernewski, a Cantonese resident who had an unexplained illness a few weeks ago and was frustrated by her inability to get tested for the new coronavirus.

“We are just a little stuck,” he said. “The only thing we can do is just be careful.”

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26 new coronavirus cases in Massachusetts take the total to 164 – NBC Boston

There are currently 164 coronavirus cases in Massachusetts, state health officials shared on Sunday, and the number of residents tested went from 475 to nearly 800.

The 26 new cases were announced in a Commonwealth attempt to speed up testing for coronavirus after restrictions have been relaxed on the test protocols.

New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires doctors only to present a nasal swab instead of presenting previously required nasal and throat swabs. With the modification of the clinical test protocols, the state laboratory test capacity has doubled from 200 to around 400 patients per day.

Massachusetts doctors also now have greater flexibility to determine which patients should be tested without having to call DPH’s Epi Line.

With multiple clinical laboratories in the Bay State working to obtain FDA approval, health officials say that even more testing capabilities will soon be available.

As of Sunday, the Massachusetts State Public Health Laboratory has tested 799 patients, officials said, compared to 475 the previous day.

Forty-five of the 164 positive state cases were subsequently confirmed by the CDC.

Governor Charlie Baker is expected to provide an update on Sunday night about state testing efforts and what is being done to slow the spread of coronavirus in the Commonwealth.

Governor Baker and Governor Lieutenant Karyn Polito will join Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Commissioner of the Public Health Department Dr. Monica Bharel at the State House at 18:00. The Baker-Polito administration says that, contrary to popular rumors, it is not preparing a refuge in order.

Four of the 26 new cases announced on Sunday are related to the employee meeting held at a Boston hotel by Cambridge Biogen biotechnology company last month. Health officials say 108 of the 164 cases are now related to the February 24-27 meeting held at the Marriott Long Wharf hotel, which has since closed “in the interest of public health”.

In new cases, a healthcare professional is included at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The hospital announced the case Sunday morning and said that patients and staff who may have had contact with the infected worker are being contacted.

Eight more cases are associated with travel, bringing the total to 13. Eight remain associated with a cluster in western Massachusetts and 35 of these are currently under investigation, health officials say.

Of the 164 cases in the state, 74 are women and 90 are men. Middlesex County residents still account for nearly half, 75 of the cases across the state. The counties of Norfolk and Suffolk both have 31 cases, while there are nine cases in County Berkshire. There are now six cases each in the Essex and Worcester counties.

The counties of Plymouth, Hampden, Barnstable and Bristol have one case each. Two cases are of unknown counties at the moment.

Two other patients have been hospitalized, bringing the total to 13 so far, although another 36 cases are listed as being investigated, according to Sunday’s data.

The update in coronavirus cases on Sunday came shortly after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared a public health emergency for the coronavirus epidemic and announced radical changes for bars and restaurants in the city in an attempt to protect residents.

Boston EMS urges people not to call 911 to request COVID-19 tests. People are asked to call their primary care providers, the mayor’s hotline at 617-534-5050 or the state DPH hotline at 211.

Virus-related symptoms include fever (100.4 ° F or higher), cough, breathing difficulties or shortness of breath.

Do you have coronavirus symptoms and want to get tested? We want to know your experience. Please share contact information with NBC10 Boston investigators here or email tips@nbcboston.com.

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What to do and what not to do when protecting against coronavirus – NBC New York

With a confirmed infectious coronavirus case in New York City, health officials say the risk for nearly 9 million residents who contract the disease remains low – but there are things you can do to prepare for it when the virus inevitably spreads.

DO: wash your hands often

The most important thing New Yorkers can do to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other person-to-person diseases is to wash their hands. Spend at least 20 seconds washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, CDC advised.

Wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before and after eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

If you’re out and about and don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, which will effectively kill the virus.

Regular surgical masks are not effective in protecting against coronavirus. A more specialized face mask known as N95 respirators are thicker than surgical masks and are mounted on a person’s face to keep out any viral particles.

NOT: stocks of face masks

The CDC does not recommend anyone without symptoms to wear face masks.

Surgical masks should be reserved for people with symptoms (to prevent them from spreading the virus through respiratory secretions such as saliva or mucus) and healthcare professionals who take care of the sick.

Regular surgical masks are not effective in protecting against coronavirus, according to the CDC. A more specialized face mask known as N95 respirators are thicker than surgical masks and are mounted on a person’s face to keep out any viral particles.

DO: Avoid contact with those who are sick

COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC’s recommendation to anyone with symptoms is to stay home and avoid contact with others.

You should contact your doctor if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact (at least 6 feet) with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing spread of the virus in the community.

Currently, the countries with health communications and ongoing transmission are China, Iran, Italy, South Korea and Japan.

The CDC says you shouldn’t share items like dishes, cups, kitchen utensils, towels or bed linen with other people or pets in your home. If unavoidable, the items should be cleaned with soap and water. Surfaces such as counters, door handles, telephones and keypads also need to be cleaned frequently.

The only thing that spreads faster than panic about the COVID-19 virus could be the myths that surround it, including how it spreads and what can be done to prevent it. Rana Novini of NBC in New York.

DO NOT: avoid joining Chinese-owned companies

While the epicenter of COVID-19 is in Wuhan, China, the disease can make anyone sick, regardless of race or ethnicity, the CDC said.

Local companies in Chinatown and Flushing, Queens, say they have seen a sharp drop in their operations since the virus started to spread, but the fear that Chinese Americans are more likely to carry the virus is without foundation.

“The stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem,” said the CDC.

DO: Supply store, medicinewhether to keep medical records handy

If COVID-19 becomes more prevalent, the National Security Department says that you should stock up on medicines, supplies for you and your children. Pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, medicines for stomach pain and even liquids that contain electrolytes are recommended.

People with prescription drugs also need to make sure they have a regular supply. Having copies and electronic versions of medical records can also be helpful in a pandemic, says DHS.

If there is ever an interruption in the supply chain, DHS recommends having at least 2 weeks of non-perishable food and bottled water.

With the flu season behind and worries about coronavirus growth, NBC 5’s Lauren Petty visited Northwestern Hospital and spoke with Dr. Igor Koralnik. Koralnik shows us the right way to clean your hands in 60 seconds.

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