Coronavirus: One case lays bare America’s testing failure


“Trace, test and treat” has been the mantra of global health bodies in tackling the spread of Covid-19. But innumerable cases around the country show it is a model the United States has failed to recreate.

“I’m still sick, it hasn’t improved. I’m coughing, I’ve been feverish and my left lung hurts. There have been times the wheezing and the gurgling in my chest have been so bad at night that it’s woken me up. There’s no doubt I have all the symptoms.”

Claudia Bahorik – who is 69 and lives in Bernville, Pennsylvania – does not say this lightly. As a retired physician herself, she has done her research.

It all started as far back as the last week of February. Dr Bahorik had recently been on a trip to New York with her great niece, and soon after developed a cough and a fever, though it appeared to subside.

She carried on as planned, performing jury duty, attending the funeral of a friend and travelling to Washington DC for a medical appointment.

9 March – visits family doctor 10 March – denied a coronavirus test 

Frustrated and even more ill, Dr Bahorik calls the Department of Health. Despite exhibiting symptoms, and given her age and previous spells of pneumonia, they were inflexible.

On protesting, a nurse suggests she speak to her congressman. She calls the office of Senator Bob Casey, where she is advised to contact the Department of Health.

15 March – drives hour to testing site. Denied test again 

17 March – sent to hospital emergency room

Finally gets coronavirus test

23 March – test results delayed

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