TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The plan for the Pima County Health Department to receive thousands of COVID-19 test kits hit a snag on the first day.
The university, which produced 1,600 of the kits over three days, planned on giving 1,000 of the kits to the county Tuesday, March 24, 2020, with the promise of thousands more in the coming weeks.
But, on the first day, the Pima Health Department received only 200 and there was an issue with many of those.
Many kits contained wooden stick swabs, not plastic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow wooden swabs.
The county is sorting through each one of them to determine which is usable and which ones are not and replacing them with plastic.
It’s just another issue for Dr. Bob England, director of public health for the county health department.
“This latest glitch means we hit the ground walking rather than hit the ground running,” England said “We'll certainly get these out to partners as fast as we can.”
But it’s just another setback in their efforts to find out how widespread the virus is in the county which is key to determining strategy.
“If we can't test people to see how much it's spreading we are kind of flying blind here,” he said.
England said he is confident the problem will be solved and the test kits will be provided, but it’s still not likely enough in the short term.
“It’s going to take a while to ramp up,” he said. “This is going to go on for months and months.
Pima County also received its allotment of PPE, personal protection equipment, promised by the state amid much fanfare, but, according to England, “it’s just a drop in the bucket” of what the county needs.
His first concern is for the health care workers who are re-using their equipment.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” he said. “In this society in this economy that getting relatively straight forward stuff has been so incredibly difficult.”