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Frustrations rise, as sick Minnesotans are denied coronavirus tests

State officials say more tests are needed, feds promise help is on the way

MINNEAPOLIS — President Trump’s promised ramp-up of coronavirus testing cannot come soon enough for Mary Lennick and her co-workers.

For most of the week, Lennick has been home sick with a bad cough, scratchy throat, and a fever of 102.

Yet, when she sought a coronavirus test, she couldn’t get past her online clinic.

“Even though I had the physical symptoms, because I didn't travel, I didn't meet the criteria,” Lennick said.

Lennick’s co-worker, recently back from a Caribbean cruise, has been feeling sick too.  Her clinic also denied a test.

The co-worker spent Friday off work, as did four other people feeling symptoms in the office. 

That’s six of 17 people in the office who are home sick, according to Lennick, yet none of them able to get tested.

“We could be a cluster,” Lennick said. “How can you determine if there’s community spread if there’s not testing.”

Lennick’s experience seems to contradict the message President Trump delivered last week.  

“Anybody that needs a test, gets a test, they're there. They have the tests,” the president told reporters.

Not so, according to Minnesota’s state health commissioner on Friday.  

“We acknowledge it would be desirable to have the capacity to do more testing,” Jan Malcolm said.

As of Friday, Malcolm said 500 people have been tested in Minnesota, with 14 people testing positive for COVID-19.

Malcolm said the state would like to be able to test 15,000 people a month. She appealed for more federal help.  

Not long after at a White House news conference, the president announced a private/public partnership to vastly expand coronavirus testing.

Mr. Trump promised “1.4 million tests on board next week and five million within a month.” The president then added, “I doubt we'll need anywhere near that.”

That should come as good news to Lennick, and others like her. “Knowing right now is power for everyone, not just us as individuals but for us as a community,” Lennick said.  

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