Comparing COVID-19 testing across state lines

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MILTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) — After a week of trying to get tested for the coronavirus, Sarah Winland is running out of options.

“I definitely think it's a dangerous attitude to think that we're the last ones and people are making a joke about it,” Winland said. “Really we're not the last ones, we're doing the worst testing. We're just not testing people and if you don't test people, you can't obviously say you have any.”

Earlier this week, Winland's husband Michael started to feel sick, with respiratory issues.

“So my husband got sick,” Winland said. “He started showing signs this week. Probably about Tuesday. He wasn't feeling well.”

After two doctor visits and two failed flu tests, she says his condition got worse.

“Friday night around nine o'clock, he starts having trouble breathing,” Winland said. “I said 'okay let's go to the ER'”

That's where they were tested for flu and pneumonia and also did a blood panel, with no conclusive explanation for his sickness.

“She said at that point, she wanted to get the COVID-19 testing going and he was to stay in the room and not leave,” Winland said.

After several hours, the test was denied.

“She said 'I really want to test you guys, but Cabell Huntington Health Department says you haven't traveled, that you don't have to get tested' and that was really concerning to me since he works at a call center with 600 people from all three states Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio,” Winland said.

WSAZ spoke with the Cabell Huntington Health Department and they tell us that Michael did not fit the criteria to be tested for coronavirus as set forth by the state of West Virginia.

WSAZ started digging deeper into the testing guidelines across our region and the country and there is no consistent criteria for testing across state lines.

According to West Virginia’s guidelines, a patient's travel is highly considered. The Division of Health and Human Resources describes at-risk areas of China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, most of Europe as well as California, Washington and New York in the United States.

That's not the case in Ohio and Kentucky.

“She kept asking 'did you travel to California?’” Winland said. “'Did you travel to Washington?' Well obviously no, but it's in more places than just California or Washington. Just because we didn't travel there doesn't mean like a co-worker didn't.”

Winland and her husband are now just trying to figure out their next step.

“I want to know how many tests there are and why they're not being used and why travelling has to be a factor to get a test,” Winland said. “Because at the point, it's so widespread I think travel shouldn't be a factor.”

Winland told WSAZ of some pre-conditions her husband has. We told Cabell Huntington Health Department about those pre-conditions and they tell us it would put him at more elevated risk, but not high risk.

WSAZ reached out to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources on if travel will be considered in testing moving forward. They have yet to reply.