I have been ill with symptoms of COVID-19 for three weeks, isolating at home. I’ve had coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever and headaches. I lost my sense of smell and taste.

But I can’t get tested because I am on Tier 3 of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s priority guidelines. So the state CDC is unaware of my illness, my contacts have not been traced and I may never show up on any tracking database that might help our nation’s health authorities arrest the progression of this pandemic.

Why isn’t accurate tracking happening?

First, the lack of testing capability continues, requiring the Maine CDC to preserve limited tests for those who need them most, including, among others, hospitalized patients and symptomatic health care workers. The Trump administration should take decisive action with the Defense Production Act to meet a need that goes beyond these groups.

Second, health care providers lack regularly updated guidance about which tiers of patients to test. As kits become available, the state CDC should immediately indicate when lower-tier patients like me can be tested based on the supply level and projected need.

Third, official CDC reporting forms do not include patients with a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19, so many patients are not being tracked. The CDC needs to open up another channel for carefully defined reporting that includes symptomatic patients who are not being tested.

Until these issues are addressed, our state will be hobbled in our efforts to break the power of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melodie Gage


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