Health care professionals and government officials have constantly stressed some people who feel ill won’t be permitted to receive a novel coronavirus test.
Even those showing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath won’t allow some people to be tested without a prescription from a primary care physician or health care provider.
Latina Sanders of Forestville felt ill for at least 10 days and thought she had a bad cold.
“I have body aches. Just have the chills. It hurts when I swallow and I can’t taste anything,” said the 37-year administrative assistant at Washington Hospital Center in Northwest.
After two phone interviews with her new doctor, she came to the office and received a chest X-ray.
Sanders, who’s asthmatic, said the results showed she had pneumonia in her right lower lung, so she received a prescription and appointment scheduled to receive a COVID-19 test.
Sanders traveled to a drive-thru site Friday, March 28 at Kaiser Permanente in Largo and summarized the process:
“You drive up. There’s a sign that says ‘stop here.’ You roll your window down slightly. You have to show a referral from your doctor. I didn’t know what to expect. They take a long stick with Q-tip at the end and stick in way up your nostril. It hurt so bad.
“Then I got paperwork to follow [instructions] if you have the coronavirus and self-quarantine yourself for seven days. I’m kind of scared because I have asthma. I don’t want to get to the point of being on a ventilator.”
Sanders has two children, ages 7 and 9, but she said they have separate rooms. The only time Sanders can leave her room is preparing food for her children and the bathroom. She must wash and sanitize her hands and use disinfecting wipes to clean the toilet.
In the meantime, Sanders must stay home, relax and try and watch “some good movies.”
“It’s boring, though,” she said. “I can’t wait for this to be over.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases could increase. He issued an executive order Monday, March 30 for residents to stay at home, limiting movement to essential travel such as trips to grocery stores, pharmacies, transporting a family member to a doctor and a court order.
Any person who “knowingly and willfully” violates the order would be guilty of a misdemeanor and could face up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.
“This is a rapidly escalating emergency situation,” Hogan said at a press conference in Annapolis. “We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so.”
Hogan didn’t give a specific date to when the order would be lifted, but the document reiterates all bars, fitness centers and other nonessential businesses must remain closed until then.
The announcement comes after authorities arrested and charged a Charles County man Friday for violating a state order of gathering with 10 or more people. The county’s sheriff’s office said about 60 people were present when deputies responded to the house.
Nearly 70 people tested positive for the coronavirus at a nursing home in Carroll County.
“The fact is that each and every one of us has the chance to do something to help our neighbors,” Hogan said. “Every single Marylander can be a hero just by staying home and by practicing social distancing. This will not only keep you and your families safe, but it could also save the lives of thousands of others.”
Less than an hour before Hogan announced the stay-at-home order, a coronavirus screening and testing at FedEx Field in Landover opened for those with scheduled appointments. The site will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.
The site plans to help decrease patients at doctor’s offices, hospitals and health care facilities. Prince George’s residents can seek a telehealth appointment through the county’s Health Department and call 301-883-6627.
Statewide, those with severe symptoms, people age 65 and older and residents with underlying health conditions can go to three other testing sites opened at vehicle emission stations in Glen Bernie, Bel Air and Waldorf in neighboring Charles County.
“This is indeed the greatest public health challenge of our lifetimes and we all need to face this together,” said Fran Phillips, deputy secretary for public health at the state Department of Health. “When this crisis is over, and one day it will be over, we will look back at this time in our lives as a particularly extraordinary moment.”