Coronavirus testing is ramping up this week after the CDC's botched rollout of the test in February — but that doesn't mean tests are available at your local doctor's office or the emergency room, nor should you expect them to be.
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Health officials recommend that individuals who think they have coronavirus contact their physician, local health department or state health department. The test is too complicated to carry out in a doctor's office, but doctors can use methods including swabbing a patient's nose or throat to collect a sample to be sent to a lab.
More than 2 million tests have been manufactured and one million tests were shipped to public health labs on Saturday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the tests were not made available quickly enough in her state, which has seen the most virus deaths.
“I am extremely frustrated by how the Trump Administration has handled the deployment of such tests, including how it has communicated to Congress and the public about when, where, and to whom tests will be available. In the midst of this public health emergency, the Trump Administration must do better,” Murray wrote in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the President's coronavirus task force. “The Administration has failed several times to take steps that could expedite the COVID-19 response, resulting in a slower deployment of tests to people in need."
There are more than 400 cases of coronavirus in at least 27 states, and at least 19 Americans have died.
Dr. Marc Siegel joined FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Monday to discuss the government scaling up testing with the help of private industry, including major U.S. lab operator Quest Diagnostics Inc, which said it would start a coronavirus test service this week.
"I absolutely predict [the number of cases is] on its way up. Why? Because we're finally testing on it. ... I've called labs all weekend," Siegel said. "They've got them."
"When a new virus comes out, at first blush they always think it's more deadly than it is," Siegel continued. "This is going to show that this is a relatively mild virus."
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There's also confusion around the cost of testing. The Miami Herald detailed the financial impact on a Florida man who tested negative for coronavirus after returning from China with symptoms. Osmel Martinez Azcue was billed $3,270 after being tested at a hospital. His insurance agreed to pay all but $1,400 of the bill if he provided three years of medical records to prove his illness didn't stem from a preexisting condition.
Medicare Part B covers the coronavirus test for enrollees for tests on or after Feb. 4.