CHICAGO (CBS) — As officials work to increase access to COVID-19 tests, some are still running into roadblocks when trying to get tested in Illinois.
Indigo Olson, 10, from Darien said he started to feel sick last week. His mom, Neringa Valkiunas, took him to the doctor Friday. They were worried because one of his other siblings recently had strep throat.
Valkiunas learned Indigo had “sinuses, a sore throat but nothing that said that it was strep.” They were also told Indigo did not have the flu. By Tuesday he’d developed a cough.
“I kind of ran upstairs after about five minutes and he’s like, ‘I can’t breathe. I’m like ‘What?’ And he’s like, ‘I’m having a hard time breathing,'” Valkiunas said.
“I could barely get any breath,” Indigo said.
He wound up at a hospital where more tests were conducted to verify he did not have the flu or strep but was not given any COVID-19 tests. The staff said that would require state approval.
“They go, ‘Even if we take the test, we have to call the IDPH, and they’re the ones who decide if we can send it in or not,'” Valkiunas said.
A doctor gave them a note saying the whole family should stay at home for two weeks to “avoid contagion.”
“You sit here going, ‘Do I have it or do I not?” Valkiunas said.
She says things got even worse and Indigo went to another hospital on Thursday. The staff said Indigo had a “viral syndrome” and “lethargy” but did not specify the virus. Paperwork given to Valkiunas said the hospital is waiting on their test results, and if they can rule out other illnesses and get approval from the state, then they will test for COVID-19 using the same sample.
“How can we get true numbers? How can we know how serious this is if we’re not conducting the tests?” Valkiunas said.
Governor JB Pritzker says more than 1,000 people are being tested per day in the Illinois and the state soon hopes to increase that number to more than 2,000. Pritzker acknowledged at a Saturday news conference that more testing is needed.
“Because the testing is still so limited, we have limited information,” Pritzker said.
For Indigo, part of the problem might be that he has not met the rapidly changing criteria or that he has not had all the main symptoms. He has not had a fever, and the family can’t confirm he’s been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.
Indigo has struggled with asthma his whole life, but he says this was different.
“I thought I would not have enough to survive while going to sleep,” he said.
During our interview Thursday evening, he said he was still feeling some pain but felt much better.
State officials say some who do not meet the state’s criteria can still seek commercial testing or testing at a hospital with a doctor’s approval.

On Friday, the family got a letter from their pediatrician recommending Indigo be tested for COVID-19. Now Valkiunas is calling around to see if that might be enough for another hospital or a commercial lab to test Indigo, but so far she has not had any luck.

Tim McNicholas