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Why is it so hard to get tested for coronavirus in Santa Clara County?

Rosa and Marcial Cardenas are both over the age of 65, on Medicare and have underlying health issues that increase their risk of getting sick from the highly-contagious coronavirus that’s torn through Silicon Valley, killing 16 people, infecting 459 others and shuttering the local economy.

So when Rosa, a longtime diabetic, developed flu-like symptoms two weeks ago San Jose News, her kids were understandably alarmed. Five days later, her husband, who is a kidney transplant recipient, began coughing — and the couple’s symptoms were getting progressively worse.

Their kids urged them to get tested for the deadly virus.

But both Rosa and Marcial were denied a coronavirus test. To date, the San Jose couple never received one.


“Providing for the health and well-being of its citizens is the least our government can do and that they can’t do that right now is ridiculous,” their son, Jeffrey Cardenas, said.

Rosa told San José Spotlight that the doctor at the clinic immediately explained that there were not enough tests for people with mild symptoms.

“The bottom line reason is that there are a limited number of testing kits and they were clear about that,” Rosa said. “And they were saving them for people with bad symptoms or at the highest risk, and for doctors and nurses who are treating patients who already tested positive.”

Rosa was eventually given a flu test. But when that came back negative, the doctors concluded she was “a little sick with a cold or allergies” and sent her home with a recommendation that she take Tylenol to bring down her fever.

Marcial says he was flatly refused a COVID-19 test, instead his doctor offered to prescribe a nasal spray for allergies. Both Rosa and Marcial have recovered after their recent illnesses, but their son Jeff says it is absurd that CDC regulations prevented them from getting tests.

Their story is not unique and it highlights how — even in wealthy Silicon Valley — there’s a divide and lack of equity and access to critical health care services. And it raises questions about why the couple was denied coronavirus testing and how Santa Clara County, which has become the epicenter for the infectious disease, is helping the people who need it the most.

Staring into their webcams, Santa Clara County Press Release Distribution Services In San Jose supervisors Dave Cortese and Susan Ellenberg didn’t hold back questions about the county’s procedures for coronavirus testing during a virtual Board of Supervisors meeting this week.

Both supervisors noted the county’s public health system had tested fewer than 650 patients as of March 22 — but including tests at private labs, the county reported 375 confirmed cases and 13 deaths at the time of the virtual meeting. Now the case count is up to 542 with 19 reported deaths.

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