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Health care worker from Rohnert Park says he was denied coronavirus test despite symptoms

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How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

Rohnert Park resident Niko Aiello, 22, said he has been asking his primary care doctor at Kaiser to consider whether he contracted coronavirus after he succumbed to a respiratory illness about one week ago.

Aiello said he started feeling sick March 10 while he was on duty for his job at a local mental health care facility. It started with the onset of a fever and other symptoms including breathing difficulty he sought care at Kaiser Medical Center in Santa Rosa, Aiello said.

“They said it looks like you have an upper respiratory infection — take Mucinex and Tylenol as needed,” said Aiello, a political science student at Sonoma State University who is on hiatus this semester. “Over the course of the week it progressively got worse.”

By Friday, Aiello was back at Kaiser’s emergency department because his breathing problems had worsened. Medical staff evaluated him for pneumonia, took a chest X-ray and prescribed antibiotics to stave off infection.

Aiello said he believes his age and otherwise good health mean he will bounce back even if he does have the virus. But he would prefer to know. He said his employer tried to advocate for testing, but he has been denied.

“Every time I’ve been told that, practically, we don’t have enough tests to test you because you haven’t been in direct contact with someone who has already contracted the virus,” Aiello said.

Asked about situations like those described by Aiello, Dr Sundari Mase, Sonoma County’s interim public health officer, said she couldn’t comment on the specific case but added that doctors are no longer being asked to limit testing to vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with travel histories in order to allow doctors to make testing decisions based on each case.

“This has been our message all along; it’s a disconnect with what we’re telling people,” Mase said.

All told, 196 tests for coronavirus have been run by local, state or federal public health laboratories, including the 159 tests through the county’s surveillance project. Those numbers don’t include testing done at private labs including Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, which are only required to report positive results.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

The Press Democrat wants to know what stories you see emerging and what you're experiencing locally during the shelter-in-place order. Reach out to us at coronavirus@pressdemocrat.com.

How To Reduce Your Risk

Local health officials urge practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of becoming infected with a respiratory virus, such as the flu or coronavirus. This includes:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes and face
• Cough or sneeze into your sleeved elbow
• Stay home when ill
• Get a flu shot, and it’s not too late this season

Source: Sonoma County Department of Health Services

For more information, go to sonomacounty.ca.gov/Health/Information-About-Coronavirus.

Questions or concerns can be directed to the county’s 24-hour information hotline at 211 or 800-325-9604. You can also text "COVID19" to 211211 for coronavirus information.

For more stories about the coronavirus, go here.

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