There is nothing more important in dealing with the spread of a new illness than accurate information. Keeping the public appropriately informed should be a joint effort between the government, the healthcare community and the media. But Donald Trump is President and it is COVID-19. So nothing is can work in the best interest of the public because ORANGE MAN BAD.
An account on Twitter called Sketchy Lady posted a lengthy thread on her supposed experience as an individual with symptoms of COVID-19 as of 11 hours ago. May I also mention she has a Venmo link in her profile?
She talks about the lack of information on the Washington State public health website about testing and patient instructions. She even called the hotline who couldn’t tell her where to go! Emmy award winning journalist David Schuster told his Twitter followers the thread is a MUST READ. Former Journalist at AP, The National Journal and others, Ron Fournier also called the thread horrifying. Sketchy Lady even earned her own hashtag #CoronaVirusSeattle after over 27,000 retweets and who knows how many quote tweets from the blue check brigade.
You might think Emmy award winning journalists would use their Google machine to find out if the information provided from a self-proclaimed Sketchy Lady asking to be paid for her hot takes was legitimate. You would be wrong. Amping up the panic helps their primary mission of making sure everyone knows the Trump administration has no idea what they are doing.
So I decided to take a peek. Sketchy Lady is supposedly in the healthcare industry. She says she works in a physical therapy clinic. What I found should have been a cinch for her to process, since a simple search with the terms “Washington State Corona Virus Testing” and “Washington State Public Health” brought up a full page of resources and instructions in the first three results.
First, you don’t go anywhere just to be tested. Like most viral outbreaks, the Department of Health has posted evaluation guidelines for physicians, clinics and emergency rooms. If you don’t know how these things work, these aren’t just posted on the internet, they are sent to every healthcare provider. The document was last updated on 2/28/2020. Not this morning.
Looking at the evaluation, it is clear, a patient must be assessed according to the guidelines and tested for other respiratory diseases. If these are negative, a doctor must receive permission from their local health jurisdiction to test for COVID-19 if they feel it is indicated. The evaluation covers more than just physical symptoms, like the one Sketchy Lady described. It covers other items to assess for exposure.
The test consists of common specimen collections that are often used for other respiratory conditions. These specimens are then sent to a central lab to be tested for the virus. this aids in reporting and tracking. Once tested, the patient would likely be quarantined until the results were returned.
In other words, you will not go anywhere in Washington State and ask for a corona virus test. You will encounter a sign as required by the Department of Health upon entering the facility.
Then you will be evaluated according to specific criteria as required by the Department of Health and the CDC. The Department of Health website did say that the dedicated number for COVID-19 has been receiving an unusually high call volume. I am sure the amplification from high profile accounts of Sketchy Lady’s bogus thread is not helping. Maybe the Washington State Department of health can hit her Venmo to get her to delete.
In short, her assertions about the lack of information on line is just not true. Public Statements on the site go back as far as January 21, 2020. While it appears the phone line may be difficult to get through on, largely because our media is garbage, it would not be directing you to a testing location. It would be directing you to be evaluated by your physician, clinic or emergency room.
Journalists amplifying this thread should be ashamed of themselves. In a public health emergency spreading disinformation spreads panic. Unfortunately that may be their objective. However, directing people to read a thread from an anonymous rando on Twitter without verifying any assertion made just exposes your motives. And in the end, it only causes trust in your entire profession to continue to decline.