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Sick couple struggles to get coronavirus test

States like Minnesota and Wisconsin are testing only those who need hospitalization or are health care workers.

RIVER FALLS, Wis. — People throughout the country are being turned away while seeking tests for COVID-19 coronavirus because of the short supply. States like Minnesota and Wisconsin are testing only those who need hospitalization or are health care workers.

Jeff and Shawndra – a couple living near River Falls, Wisconsin encountered this struggle to get tested first hand.

Both started showing symptoms late last week.

“My lungs hurt. My throat hurts. I know I was running a fever,” said Jeff. Shawndra’s were even more severe. Throughout a conversation over FaceTime, her coughing punctuated every sentence.

“I was up all night. I can’t sleep because I can’t stop coughing,” she said describing how she was short of breath and had been fighting a fever. Shawndra also has asthma, but it has never been this bad.

By Sunday, the couple decided to try to get a COVID-19 test. Jeff showed KARE 11 call logs. He contacted multiple local hospitals, public health officials, the CDC and local clinics.

“I probably worked on it for 4 hours,” Jeff said.

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Finally he wound up at a local clinic – with a sign on the door saying they didn’t have any tests. They were advised to go to the hospital E.R. Shawndra could only receive a test if she was admitted but fearing high bills, they went somewhere else.

At the end of the day, she was treated for asthma but told no tests were available to her.

“Pretty much what the doctor said is unless you’re one of those at risk patients a test isn’t available,” Jeff said, adding that Shawndra’s asthma didn’t qualify her as “high risk”.

The two worried about how long to quarantine. Both have public facing jobs that they’d worked last week.

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By Tuesday, Shawndra’s symptoms were more severe and she was having trouble breathing. Jeff shot video as they went to a drive through clinic in Hastings.   The nurse asked Shawndra questions and after seeing how high her heart rate was, gave her the test, a quick swab in the nose.  

Because of the backlog, she likely won’t have test results for up to 5 days. Both Jeffrey and Shawndra say they are self-quarantining in the meantime.

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here.