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HomeHealthFolks scramble to get examined for COVID however appointments are onerous to...

Folks scramble to get examined for COVID however appointments are onerous to get : NPR

A small group well being clinic in Richmond, Calif., is slammed with demand for COVID-19 exams. Public well being officers are telling individuals to get examined, however that is proving troublesome for a lot of.


Throughout the U.S., the unfold of omicron has individuals scrambling to get examined for COVID, however the strains are lengthy, appointments at testing websites get scooped up quick and fast antigen exams are onerous to seek out. Raquel Maria Dillon with member station KQED visited a clinic within the working-class metropolis of Richmond in Northern California.

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON, BYLINE: Alejandra Felix had a cough and a sore throat, so she did the accountable factor and known as in sick.

ALEJANDRA FELIX: (Talking Spanish).

DILLON: Felix cleans homes for a residing and works for herself. Earlier than she goes again to work, she desires to make certain it is only a flu. The COVID testing website right here at LifeLong Medical Heart was absolutely booked. She known as and known as…

FELIX: (Talking Spanish).

DILLON: …However could not get an appointment. For Felix, per week with no work means dropping as much as $800 in revenue.

FELIX: (Talking Spanish).

DILLON: Cash she must pay the payments. However this clinic is not taking walk-ups anymore.

FELIX: (Talking Spanish).

DILLON: Felix left feeling determined. Because the holidays, the demand for testing right here has ballooned. For the small workers, it is exhausting.

GRISELDA RAMIREZ-ESCAMILLA: We get drained, and we simply obtained to step apart, take a breath. There are occasions the place we cry just a little, after which we come again.

DILLON: Griselda Ramirez-Escamilla, who runs the pressing care middle right here, says this surge is taking an emotional toll.

RAMIREZ-ESCAMILLA: You already know, it is onerous. And we present up each morning. We’ve got occasions the place we do break down, but it surely’s simply the character of it. We’ve got to elevate our spirits and maintain transferring.

DILLON: LifeLong Medical serves a selected group – Medicaid sufferers and important employees who threat COVID publicity at their jobs. The pandemic is hitting these low-income communities once more, this time with omicron. LifeLong runs three testing websites within the Bay Space. Its clinics are getting a few thousand COVID calls every day. This website can solely take a look at 60 individuals every day and may’t scale up.

JOCELYN FREEMAN GARRICK: It isn’t at all times about amount. But when we’re reaching those that don’t have any different method to entry testing assets, then we’re reaching our objective.

DILLON: Dr. Jocelyn Freeman Garrick is with Alameda County’s public well being division. With demand up 400% at county testing places, she says these smaller websites do what bigger ones cannot – serve these weak neighborhoods.

FREEMAN GARRICK: We discovered at these smaller websites that the p.c positivity fee was a lot increased than the overall inhabitants. So the numbers could also be small, however that is a pivotal function.

GABY PEREZ: So go forward and pull your masks down. And open your mouth and stick your tongue out.

DILLON: That is 24-year-old Gaby Perez. It is her job to swab noses and throats for the COVID exams right here. She says many immigrant households on this majority-Latino metropolis reside in multigenerational households with grandparents or kids who’re too younger to be vaccinated.

PEREZ: As soon as someone exams constructive, it is like there is not any means of getting away from it except you go to a different house. You bought to make use of the identical rest room, similar bed room, similar kitchen. There’s probably not a means round it.

DILLON: She speaks from expertise.

PEREZ: I do reside with my dad and mom, and I’ve been hit by COVID. I thank God that I did survive it. My dad was actually sick.

DILLON: That was final summer time, and he is OK now. However the expertise impressed her to change careers from baby care to medical assistant as a step towards turning into a nurse to additional serve her group.

For NPR Information, I am Raquel Maria Dillon in Richmond, Calif.


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