The battle against Coronavirus: Orlando faces a testing kit shortage

ALEXIS HUANG, Focus Editor

With the continued rapid spreading of the coronavirus, Florida has surpassed 20,000 confirmed cases. Dr. Alfred Tirado, an emergency room doctor located just outside of Orlando, has seen over 100 patients who’ve tested positive for Coronavirus come through his hospital’s doors. 


“My job is to basically oversee the entire emergency room and its operations,” Tirado said. “Over the past few weeks, my colleagues and I have been working around the clock to treat patients battling the Coronavirus.” 


While the state has one of the highest number of cases in comparison to the rest of the United States, resources to aid in the fight against the virus continue to fall short. Hospitals and doctors are constantly reporting a lack of testing kits which has only contributed to the spread of the virus.


“In the ER, we have struggled to gain access to testing kits,” Tirado said. “It wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on some kits. Even though kits are now available in our hospital, it’s nowhere near enough.” 


A study done by emergency room doctor Jamie Bell puts this shortcoming into perspective. Bell quantifies that while New York was doing 18,000 tests a day, Florida had only done 27,000 over the course of two months. To help slow down the spread of the virus, Orlando has recently increased its accessibility to testing through testing centers and hospitals. 


On Tuesday March 17, alumni Eli Finkelstein flew back from Chicago and shortly after, discovered he had a 101.5 degree fever. Alarmed, he made a trip to his local Urgent Care to be tested for the flu and strep. Both tests came out as negative; however, the following day his symptoms got increasingly worse. He made a trip to the emergency department at the Winter Park Hospital where he was tested for COVID-19. Even though his tests came back as negative for COVID-19, Finkelstein followed the appropriate measures to get tested to prevent any potential spreading of the virus. 


Three of the largest temporary testing sites include UCF, the Mall at Millenia, and the Orange County Convention Center. However, each center can only test a certain amount of people a day. This makes it difficult to find a time where a test is guaranteed. Even with larger temporary facilities opening, the city’s efforts still fall short. 


“The best way to help in the fight against Coronavirus is by social distancing and staying at home if there’s no need to go out,” Tirado said. “It will require all of us to follow guidelines if we want to ever return to normal after this quarantine.”