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Concerns surround coronavirus testing guidelines for people showing symptoms

Some patients showing coronavirus symptoms say they're being told they don't meet the criteria to be tested for COVID-19

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Some people in the state are raising concerns about the availability of COVID-19 tests. Some say, even though they are showing symptoms, they are being told they can't be tested. 

The PA Department of Health says, it does prioritize who to test. Right now it is mainly limited to those who are showing symptoms, at-risk, and who have traveled out of the country or have direct known contact with someone with COVID-19. 

FOX43 spoked to Tara Shakespeare of Cumberland County through FaceTime as she is experiencing an intermittent fever, cough, chest heaviness, and shortness of breath.

She initially tested positive for flu, was given antiviral medication, which she says hasn't worked and her symptoms have worsened. She wants to get tested for coronavirus, to rule it out. 

She recently traveled to Philadelphia for a two-day conference and came in contact with a number of people but, no known direct contact with someone with COVID-19. She says, she can't get tested because she doesn't meet the criteria.  

"They asked some basic questions. Have I traveled to any hotspots internationally, have I had contact with somebody who is known to have had coronavirus. And I had not," said Shakespeare. "So, they said you don't have coronavirus, you're fine. People who have it are not out walking around they are quarantined." 

DOH Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine has said, if people do not meet criteria for state lab testing, they can be tested in a commercial lab by their primary care doctor. But, Shakespeare says, there is confusion. 

She says, a local hospital told her she needed a referral from her doctor to be tested, and her doctor said only the DOH can determine who can be tested.

"It's very frustrating," said Shakespeare. "I've been going back in my mind over the interactions I've had with people. I'm concerned about anyone I may have interacted with, but if I did have something and was contagious, it's weighing on me quite heavily." 

Dr. Levine says she did send updated guidelines to doctors and hospital on testing patients for COVID-19 in commercial labs when they see fit.