Greenville woman told she’s likely positive, denied COVID-19 test

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Greenville woman who was denied a COVID-19 test despite suffering from described symptoms hopes people will take the disease seriously.

“I have no energy. My bones hurt. I’m just, I’m sick of being sick and I’ve never been this sick before,” Amanda Ripley told News 8 Monday. “If this is the flu, this is worse than any flu I’ve ever known and I’m 39 years old. I’m normally healthy and active. I’m a hiker. I am on my feet all day, every day and this is the worst I’ve ever felt.”

Last week, she began feeling chest pain and had trouble breathing. She was screened over the phone and was told someone would follow up for a test.

“By Thursday, I was horrible. Like, I couldn’t breathe, my chest pain was unreal and so I called again,” Ripley explained. “They directed me to call 911. I said, ‘I’m not calling 911.’ They said, ‘You need to go to an emergency room.’ They asked which one, I told them. The emergency room then called me and made sure they were ready for me to come in.”

Ripley provided News 8 with documentation from a visit to Spectrum Health’s emergency room in Greenville last Thursday. An X-ray ruled out pneumonia, but the discharge paperwork acknowledged it could be coronavirus.

Despite her patient narrative, Ripley was denied a test. She told News 8 her fever spiked to 103 the day she went to the ER.

“They said that there are tiers and I didn’t meet any of the criteria for the tiers,” she explained. “They said all of the symptoms I have do coincide with COVID-19 or it could be the flu or it could be a viral respiratory (infection), but they were going to treat me as if it was.”

Ripley is currently in self-quarantine at home. She was prescribed albuterol, benzonatate and prednisone, all of which work for a bit, but Ripley says they wear off quickly. 

Her fever continues to spike up and down, and the shortness of breath is persistent. If she’s able to go 72 hours without symptoms, Ripley will be able to end her quarantine next week. 

News 8 reached out to Spectrum Health and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for information on testing. Their responses are below:

From Spectrum:

“Testing supplies and laboratory capacity are limited. In an effort to ensure the highest risk suspected COVID-19 patients are tested, we are aligned with the revised State of Michigan COVID-19 testing guidelines announced March 18 by the Department of Health and Human Services. Spectrum Health will give testing priority to patients with fever or cough AND are hospitalized with severe lower respiratory illness, pregnant women in the third trimester, severely immunocompromised individuals, health care workers, and patients in other public safety occupations (e.g., law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS).”

From MDHHS:

“Despite the fact we have more than tripled capacity for testing in our state lab in recent weeks, and commercial and clinical labs are up and running, we know there are many people who are unable to get a COVID-19 test.

As a country, we did not make testing available quickly enough to be able to fully understand the scope of the problem. Testing supplies are in high demand and there just aren’t enough available. We have had to prioritize testing at the MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories to tests that are associated with active investigations of known case contacts, individuals with concerning exposure histories and risk profiles and specimens obtained during illness cluster investigations. These groups represent individuals for whom public health intervention is critical. The rapid integration of investigative information with laboratory results allows for the most effective public health action toward mitigating transmission.”

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