'We were warned': Healthcare provider says COVID-19 numbers will begin to increase as more tests performed

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Friday, March 20, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta University is being asked to aid in testing coronavirus patients from Atlanta. They wouldn’t elaborate if that meant processing testing kits here in the CSRA or sending staff to assist in the capital city.

Some of us are choosing to stay home, but others are not. People are still going to restaurants and stores, and that’s just one of the many growing concerns of healthcare workers.

White tents now sit outside of emergency departments at our hospitals. Medical personnel scan patients for fevers before entering area clinics. Local professionals take to social media to warn the virus is alive and a real threat to everyone.

“Somber,” said one medical professional describing the mood in the office. “It almost feels like you are in a movie. It is unreal, it's hard to describe.”

The provider does not want to be identified because she needs her paycheck. We first talked to her a week ago. The number of confirmed cases in Georgia has exploded more than 1,200 percent since we last talked to her.

“We were warned that this would be an exponential increase because they are testing more now, but to be honest, the tests are still hard to come by,” the provider said.

“Some of the private labs are running behind, so instead of a 2-3 day turnaround, which is what it was supposed to be, it can be up to an 8-10 day turn around.”

An even bigger concern? The supplies are still very limited.

“We still don’t wear N-95 masks, and on the other items, it’s a very limited supply and they are encouraging you to only use those things if you have a severely ill respiratory patient.”

Healthcare workers like herself are at a very high risk for the virus, but they are needed more than ever at this time -- regardless of the low supply of personal protective equipment.
“I am very frustrated and scared for myself and my family,” the provider said. “I feel like we are being put in a position to contract the virus and spread the virus.”

President Donald Trump is beginning to use powers under the Defense Production Act this week. It allows the military to produce things like face masks. However, we don’t know how long it will take to get into the hands of our local healthcare workers. Time is not on their side as long people continue to leave their homes.

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