Sick residents in Bozeman hoping for more COVID-19 testing

Posted at 9:42 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 23:42:57-04

BOZEMAN - COVID-19 tests are in high demand across the country and Gallatin County is no different.

“It is undoubtedly that that we need more tests and we need to build our capacity as a nation to do testing better and to do it more frequently,” said Gallatin City-County Health Department Health Officer Matt Kelley at a press conference.

On Sunday, Kelley addressed concerns over evidence of community transmission of coronavirus in the county.

He said this news wouldn’t bring major, immediate changes to how testing is conducted.

“It doesn’t change it dramatically immediately. It just adds to the preponderance of information out there that informs those decisions as they’re made,” said Kelley.

Clare Parsons is in her thirties and believes she contracted coronavirus.

After calling into the local coronavirus hotline and sharing her symptoms, she was instructed to visit the hospital.

Parsons was tested for influenza,but not the coronavirus.

“You don’t have any pre-existing condition and so yeah, and there’s not enough tests, so we have to reserve them for the high risk people. And so we didn’t test you,” said Parsons, explaining what she had been told by nurses at Bozeman Health.

“In the state of Montana, based on federal challenges, we continue to be limited in the number of people that can be tested,” said Jason Smith, chief advancement officer with Bozeman Health.

Bozeman Health says at this time they’re testing those with a specific set of severe symptoms and known exposure or travel history to a place with a serious amount of confirmed cases.

Matt Kelley responded to questions about testing availability at the press conference Sunday.

“We’re not making any arguments that we don’t need more tests. We absolutely do. But I want people to understand that getting a test doesn’t suddenly solve the problem for you,” said Kelley.

Those who are feeling sick are instructed to self-quarantine and monitor symptoms.

If symptoms worsen, individuals are instructed to call health care providers.

Parsons says this is something she understands at this point, and knows health officials and clinics are in a bind across the entire country.

“There’s frustration right now because their hands are tied, and they have to follow the guidelines and have to make probably some really hard decisions,” said Parsons.

Parsons is currently recovering at home in self-quarantine.