by George Warren

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Four months into the coronavirus crisis, the supply chain for testing supplies is backed up and the labs running the tests are overwhelmed.

Dana Fleischman, 33, expressed his frustration at the difficulty he was having getting an appointment. Fleischman was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and he doesn’t want to bring it home to his 4-month-old son.

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“He doesn’t have an immune system yet,” Fleischman said. “I just want to know if I have [COVID-19] and just have that reassurance.”

Fleischman woke up at 3 a.m. to try to get an appointment at CVS after the drugstore chain refreshed its website overnight. He discovered any available slots were already taken.

He went into a Sacramento Rite Aid and was told Rite Aid isn’t offering COVID-19 tests in California.

The California Department of Public Health directs people to two state-sponsored websites to make an appointment to be tested. Cal Expo had no appointments available; the earliest available slot in the Sacramento region was nearly two weeks out in Rocklin.

CDPH spokesperson Ali Bay told CBS13 that laboratories are being overwhelmed with specimens, which is slowing down the processing timelines. Bay said the state is also working with the federal government to try to improve the supply chain for testing supplies. In the meantime, she said, laboratories have been instructed to prioritize specimens from high-risk individuals and those showing symptoms of COVID-19.

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The Sacramento County Department of Public Health partnered with UC Davis to offer COVID-19 testing at four community sites, but all were shut down this week due to a lack of supplies. Sacramento County spokesperson Brenda Bongiorno said the sites would reopen next week with the help of the National Guard, but initially would only accept those with an existing appointment.

The sites are:

  • Robertsons Community Center: 3525 Norwood Avenue Sacramento, CA 95838. Register by calling (916) 567-9567. Appointments on Wednesdays from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • La Familia’s Maple Neighborhood Center: 3301 37th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95824, Room 7 – park on 36th Avenue. Appointments on Fridays from 9:00 AM-1:00 PM
  • Tetteh Pediatric Health: 7248 S. Land Park Drive #118, Sacramento, CA 95831. Appointments on Wednesdays from 1:45 PM-5:00 PM
  • South Sacramento Christian Center: 7710 Stockton Blvd. Sacramento, CA 95823. Appointments on Fridays 1:45-5:00 PM
  • Natomas Unified School District: 1931 Arena Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834. Appointments on Tuesdays 1:00-5:00 PM

Additionally, appointments can be made for testing at:

  • St. Paul Missionary Baptist: 3996 14th Ave, Sacramento, CA 95820. Appointments are available on Tuesdays & Fridays 8:30 AM- 12:00 PM

In Fleischman’s case, persistence paid off. He spent two hours on the phone before reaching an advice nurse who directed him to a Sutter Health urgent care center, which was offering appointments on a first-come, first-served basis. Fleischman showed up in person and was given a same-day appointment.

Even so, he wonders why after four months of the pandemic in California, getting tested is so difficult.

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“I feel like we need a better system that is just easy for people to get tested when they need to and not have to wait days and days to get it,” he said.