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Local doctor says elderly patients with coronavirus symptoms aren’t being tested

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — A local doctor says he has elderly patients with underlying conditions and symptoms of coronavirus, but they’re not being tested for it.

Dr. David Thimons is a geriatric and palliative care doctor in Aliquippa. His practice sees 1,500 elderly patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

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He told Channel 11 these patients are instead being “monitored” and then sent back to nursing homes – where they could infect dozens of other residents with the potentially deadly virus. He called this situation a crisis in our community.

“This virus is a lethal virus for patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” said Thimons. “If we blink we’re going to regret blinking. We need to act now.”

Thimons posted on social media about one patient he treats at a nursing home. That man was sent to the hospital with a 101-degree fever, cough, chest congestion and underlying health conditions. However, he was not approved for the coronavirus test and was just told he’d be monitored.

“We don’t know what to do. Right now, we’re sending patients with suspected coronavirus back to nursing homes where they can infect 100 other people there -- where mortality rates could be 10-20%. We’re looking at massive amounts of deaths and a huge tragedy,” said Thimons.

Thimons said he has seen similar patients turned away from testing because they don’t meet the criteria or there simply aren’t enough tests. He fears if we don’t treat those at most risk, a repeat of what happened at a Washington state nursing home -- where 29 elderly people died -- could happen here.

Thimons told Channel 11 a coronavirus task force for the elderly population alone should be created to ensure testing kits and sufficient masks and gowns in most at-risk facilities are available.