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Valli Geiger said she and her husband have symptoms indicating COVID-19

Lack of COVID-19 testing concerns Rockland councilor

By Stephen Betts | Apr 06, 2020
Valli Geiger

Rockland — Rockland City Councilor Valli Geiger said she and her husband Greg Marley believe they have a mild case of COVID-19 but have not been able to get tested to confirm their doctor's diagnoses.

"I think it's scandalous," Geiger said about the lack of available testing for the new virus. "It's not Maine's fault."

Maine CDC states "a limited national supply of laboratory materials inhibits Maine’s testing capacity. ...Maine is now creating a prioritization system to test individuals in high-risk categories."

The top priority is people who are hospitalized, health care workers, first responders, and patients living in groups such as assisted living facilities, jails, and shelters. Next are patients older than 60 or with underlying conditions.

Geiger said she and her husband are about a week into the illness. Geiger said she does not know where they contracted it since they had only gone grocery shopping and walking outside while maintaining the proper physical distance. Since they became ill they have self-isolated in their home.

Geiger said they have had a fever and fatigue and that breathing both feels like she is breathing with a heavy scarf over her face or a large cat sitting on her chest. She said this feels different than times when she has had seasonal influenza.

Testing is important, Geiger said, so that people know how long to quarantine.

"Communities are flying blind," she said.

The councilor is a nurse and public health worker. She is scheduled to begin a new nursing job next week but must wait for symptoms to disappear and even then, without testing, she is not sure what the proper time is to wait to go back out in the community.

Nine Knox County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began and three have recovered and been able to end their isolation. But Geiger and Marley are two examples of the many people who have said online that they or family members have not been able to be tested even though they are believed to have the new virus.

The first Knox County case was confirmed March 16 by the CDC but was then deleted because the person was a resident of another state. The first case of a Knox County resident was diagnosed a week later.

Geiger will be participating in Monday night's City Council meeting which will be broadcast on the government access channel and streamed live via the online Zoom platform. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.

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Comments (4)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Apr 08, 2020 08:06

The lack of available testing is beyond scandalous; its foolhardy and criminal because America does not have accurate data about the true number of infections. Countries that test have been able to lower the exponential growth of the virus. Exponential growth is dangerous, i.e. when a virus spreads, each infected person infects a certain number of other people and those go on to infect others, and on and on.The best behavioral practices of everyone is to greatly limit contact with other people. Staying home and ordering curbside or delivery of essential items is vital. Still, the best practices are frequent, thorough hand washing,keeping our distances from other people and wearing homemade masks.Additionally, the new daily numbers of victims is not helpful. It is more accurate to identify the daily percentage increases. To reach the rate of infecting no more than one other person is the goal toward "flattening the curve."

-Phyllis Merriam

Posted by: Cynthia Mary Anderson | Apr 07, 2020 10:41

This is a national disgrace, and not Maine's fault.  There is a national stockpile, and our President won't release it because he blames the states for not having enough testing equipment.  If they are being manufactured in Maine, why can't Maine have some of them?  I hope you and your husband recover soon, and I'm so sorry you're ill.  We are being fed inaccurate numbers and this is not fair to the public!  I am appalled that you and Greg couldn't get a test.  This is disgraceful!!

Posted by: George Terrien | Apr 07, 2020 10:27

Clearly, and looking forward to getting beyond the current crisis, we need to assure responsible anticipation, world-wide.  Our national system from several years ago (please watch this short video: did not survive short-sighted scrutiny (if there was even any).  So, let us make sure that we express our priority to our elected officials, and our appreciation when they affirm preparation for future recurrence.  This pandemic is not likely to prove our last--I hope, at least in one possible target of hopefulness.

Posted by: John Snow | Apr 07, 2020 09:46

This is why we should realize we have no precise numbers to guide our response. South Korea was able to get control through massive testing, an option not available to us.  Perhaps not until we have an accurate antibody test will we be able, in hindsight, to know just how many of us had it, revealing that many with mild symptoms (or none!) were infected carriers.

With many of our seasonal visitors arriving early, our numbers are further skewed by the bizarre fact that if ALL of them were infected, the Maine numbers wouldn't change at all. Let's not panic, but don't be comforted by the current low numbers--it's an inaccurate guidepost.

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