CHICAGO (CBS) — A total of 528 people in Illinois had died from the coronavirus as of Thursday, and more than 16,000 have tested positive so far.
But those numbers might not tell the whole story. False negative results do happen.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, it turns out everyone pulling up to test centers with symptoms are not getting tested, and others – despite getting tests performed – are finding the results aren’t always accurate.
It was a frightening set of moments a few weeks back as a mother watched her daughter get rushed to the hospital by ambulance.
“She had chest pain. She couldn’t breathe. She had stabbing pain,” said the patient’s mother, Lisa. “Ugh, it was terrible.”
By the time doctors saw Lisa’s daughter, they suspected COVID-19.
“They actually admitted her to the ICU COVID unit and they give her the COVID-19 test, and it came back negative,” Lisa said.
After three days in the hospital, Lisa’s 28-year-old daughter was sent home with a test showing she was negative for the virus.
“Four days later, she ended up spiking a temperature of 104.2, and became even worse,” Lisa said.
They returned to the emergency room.
“This time they said: ‘We think you have COVID for sure. There’s been a number of false negatives,’” Lisa said.
But she said the hospital in Antioch refused to give a second test informing the family.
“So we’re just going to say you’re presumed positive,” Lisa said.
And Lisa herself eventually fell ill. Yet when she went through a drive-through test site, she too was denied a test.
“I was shocked when she said: ‘You have symptoms. Your daughter is presumed positive. We have a limited number of tests. Why should I test you?’” Lisa said.
We wanted to know how many others were denied testing, and should those presumed positives be added to the state’s numbers?
When the 2 Investigators requested that data, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health told us, “That information is not being recorded.”
Gov. JB Pritzker admits testing is limited. He had hoped the state would reach 10,000 tests per day this week, and that did not happen.
“Folks I promised honesty and transparency in every step of our COVID-19 response, so here it is,” Pritzker said earlier this week. “We have only just recently surpassed 6,000 tests, and we will not reach the 10,000 mark this week.”
But if so many are denied, can the state truly track a community’s need?
“They don’t know the scope of this,” Lisa said.
Pritzker insisted the state is working and doing everything possible to get more COVID-19 tests. When and if that happens, it will likely eliminate the picking and choosing happening at some testing centers.