Federal and state officials on Monday said they had finally turned a corner on the coronavirus pandemic and promised a massive expansion of testing, but hopes remained dim in hospitals and clinics as patients still awaited results and overworked doctors sharply questioned the government’s latest pledge.
Some physicians in Los Angeles County said it is still nearly impossible to order a coronavirus test because the process is slowed by bureaucratic hurdles and shortages of key materials. “The testing spigot has definitely not opened up,” said one L.A. County emergency room doctor. She still faces tight restrictions on which patients qualify for testing and then has to wait for results for five days, she said.
Leigha Hodnet, 42, said she was still waiting for test results nearly one week after she and her partner were tested at a lab in Burbank. “We’re trying to self-quarantine, but it’s just really crazy,” said Hodnet, who lives in Echo Park and said her symptoms included a fever, cough and extreme fatigue. “One way to stop it is to make sure everyone can get tested and self-quarantine. But if they can’t, that’s how this becomes a pandemic.”
The ongoing problems come as the nation approaches a critical moment in its battle against the pandemic, with infections mounting, schools and businesses closing, and the economy at risk of tipping into a recession. If widespread testing doesn’t accelerate, health experts fear more extreme safety measures, such as mandatory home isolation and city lockdowns, may be necessary.
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