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Family worried COVID-19 swab wasn't tested after waiting more than a week without results

Team 12's Erica Stapleton talked with a family who just can't get results, and it's not the first time their world has been turned upside down.

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — Editor's note: Have you gotten tested for the coronavirus or tried to get tested for coronavirus? Share your experience with us here and it could be told on air.  

As the number of positive coronavirus cases rise in Arizona and across the nation, so do frustrations with testing.

It's hard enough for a lot of people to even get a swab done, but even those who get the test have to navigate what comes next.

"It's difficult," said Erin O'Connell. "We drive stuff down and then we leave it at the front door, and then we leave."

She and her husband Tim haven't seen their daughter in weeks. They said their daughter and her roommate, both 23, returned to their home in Queen Creek earlier this month after a trip to Vegas.  

A few days later, her roommate started to feel sick. Her symptoms included coughing, high fever, even losing senses of taste and smell.

"When she started having pain on inhalation and breathing in, we told her, this is nothing to fool around with," Tim said. "You need to go to the hospital and get checked out."

They said she initially went to an urgent care, where she was able to rule out the flu, and on March 18, she went to Banner Ironwood Medical Center in Queen Creek. They said she was swabbed for COVID-19 and was sent home.

Now, more than a week later, they said she hasn't gotten her results despite several calls back to the hospital, the CDC and the state health department.

Tim said they spoke to a Banner Health representative on Thursday, who told them there could have been an issue with the lab. They're worried the swab might not have even been tested yet.

"Without knowing, it’s hard to determine which limits you need to put on yourself at this point," Tim said.

They add it's been even more troubling for Tim and Erin's daughter, who has asthma.

"As much as they can, the roommate is isolated down the hall in a room behind the curtain to try and prevent any spread," Tim explained, who has also had to keep his distance.

"I have my own lung issues," he said. "I was a 9/11 first responder. I only have 51% of my lungs remaining."

Tim, a retired NYPD officer and former EMS worker, was on the front lines of 9/11 at ground zero in New York City along with his wife.

"There were a lot of people who were killed, but the emergency rooms were waiting and waiting for victims, and people just didn’t show up," he said.

Nearly 20 years later, the hospitals are inundated. New York is the country's epicenter for coronavirus cases.

"Everybody joined together," Erin said, thinking back two decades. "It wasn’t us or them, it was all of us together and that’s a similarity I find here."

With their backgrounds devoted to helping others, it's no surprise they're doing all they can to help their daughter's roommate get the answers they all need.

"The not knowing is very frustrating because you have to put your entire life on hold," Tim explained.

12 News reached out to Banner Health about this case and timelines for testing but hasn't heard back.


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