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COVID test denied in Pima County

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 7:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One man is coming forward after being turned away at a testing site despite being alerted that he’s been exposed to COVID.

On Nov. 20, Paul Loveliss received a notification from the COVID Watch Arizona app.

He said the app notified him, “that I have been highly exposed to someone, doesn’t tell me who, on November 15th, for about 71 minutes.”

That’s 5 days later.

The app is run by the state. He wrote in an email to health officials it recommended he get tested between 3 and 6 days of exposure and it provided a link to a county hosted testing site as his next step.

But Loveliss said when he arrived to be tested the next day he was told he was ineligible to receive a free test.

“They said that because I didn’t know who I was exposed to that it was actually within six feet of somebody that I couldn’t get a test. At this point, they failed me. I mean the ADHS told me to get tested. I wanted to go get tested and they turned me away. I’ve told them about this and I’ve heard absolutely nothing,” he said.

KOLD asked Pima County Health director Dr. Theresa Cullen why this happened.

Cullen answered, “What happened I believe in this situation is our protocol for those who are fully vaccinated and exposed indicates that they should test day 5.”

The current CDC guidance is 5 to 7 days for fully vaccinated people.

But Cullen said the app needed to be updated so Pima County reached out this week and the software has been changed.

“There should be no reason why anyone does not go to a county sponsored test site on day 5 after an exposure and get tested,” Cullen said.

Loveliss tried after being notified on the evening of day five.

He said the county’s solution to simply change the app to match the CDC guidelines is not enough.

“Their solution should be to update the tone from Pima County testing sites,” said Loveliss, “If someone comes in and believes they’ve been exposed to COVID-19, give them a test. Test them right then, right there.”

Loveliss told health leaders that the county’s efforts to reduce COVID testing costs played a part in being turned away.

Cullen said they thought of ending county sponsored testing, but that’s not on the books. The plan is to expand it.

The county is also pushing the free home tests that they received from the state.

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