NBC medical contributor: “I just tried to get a patient tested” for coronavirus, “and I couldn't”

Dr. Natalie Azar was “dumbfounded” that the shortage of COVID-19 testing kits is so severe that they're available only “if the patient is sick enough to require hospitalization”

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Citation From the March 12, 2020, edition of MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle

CHRIS JANSING (GUEST HOST): It's all about being tested, right? Should I be tested? Can I be tested? A lot was written after Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson said that they were positive, that they got tested just like that [snaps fingers] in Australia, something that some people have said that they might not have been able to do. I know friends of mine who are doctors are talking about the struggles that they're still having with deciding which patients can be tested, what to do with some of those patients if they can't test them and they're still a little nervous about them. Where are we with this? Because there are other countries, like Australia, where they apparently have no shortage of tests.


DR. NATALIE AZAR (NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR): I just tried to get a patient tested an hour ago and I couldn't. In my outpatient office.

JANSING: In your opinion, that person should have been tested?

AZAR: I would have liked to test her. I shouldn't have even said "her." It's one of those things where, was my clinical suspicion the highest it's ever been? No. Was it way down here? No. The message that we got from -- the only place that we're currently doing it is the emergency department, and they don't have enough. They said we can only do it if the patient is sick enough to require hospitalization, and I was dumbfounded. I've been covering this story for weeks now, and I'm sure we all are getting very mixed signals -- oh, LabCorp is testing, and millions of tests are getting rolled out. And that's all fine and good, until I finally was in my office today, I thought, "I can't get my patient tested." And I really would have liked to. So that's -- there's that.