COVID testing in Anchorage is hard to get, even if you have symptoms

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I woke up early Friday morning with a fever and chills. I grabbed another blanket but I could not stop shivering. I felt totally fine the day before. I finally fell back asleep and woke up a few hours later. I took my temperature. It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. My breathing was fine but I was obviously worried about COVID. I texted someone who works in healthcare and they told me to definitely get tested. They also told me to call 211 for info. I did that and was told someone would call me back. I then went back to sleep. I got a voicemail a few hours after I called. I was feeling so sick I just rested the entire day.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling much better. But I still wanted to get a COVID test. So I went to the drive-up testing place on Lake Otis. I thought it would be straightforward as government officials have consistently said it’s easy to get tested. I learned it’s anything but. I was told in order to get tested I needed a referral from a doctor that needed to be faxed to them. I explained I had a fever the day before. The man said I could only be tested with a referral. I called my doctor but could not reach him. The man gave me a sheet and told me to call the Providence nurse hotline. He also told me how stupid he thought it was that I could not get a test.

I called the hotline and finally was able to speak to a nurse. I explained the situation but was informed they were just an advice hotline and could not do a test referral. The woman I spoke with suggested I go to the Providence Emergency Room or Alaska Native Medical Center (if I was Alaska Native, which I am not). Knowing how expensive the ER could be I called them to see what it would cost. I was told billing was not available on Saturdays and they could not give me a price. She told me I would need to be admitted in order to get tested. Having been to the ER before, and having a high deductible insurance plan, I knew that would likely cost at least $1,000.

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