California man flies to Idaho for COVID-19 test after waiting over 2 weeks for appointment, results

ByLauren Martinez WABC logo
Sunday, July 19, 2020
Bay Area man flies to Idaho for 'faster' COVID-19 test
A Bay Area man is flying out to Boise, Idaho to take a COVID-19 test after it took him 10 days to get an appointment and over a week to get results in the Bay Area. His wife, who lives in Idaho, claims it takes 3 days to get results in Boise.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A California man is flying out to Idaho where his wife says he can get tested for the novel coronavirus quicker, and get his results back faster.

Brian Devlin lives in Richmond, a city approximately 15 miles north of San Francisco, and his wife, Tiffany Valentine works for an airline and lives outside of Boise, Idaho.

Devlin said his daughter attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Oakland and thought it would be a good idea if they both get tested for COVID-19. Devlin also added that he planned on visiting his wife in Idaho but wanted to get tested beforehand.

On July 1, Devlin said he scheduled an appointment through the Marin County Health and Human Services Department. The first available appointment was July 10 in San Rafael. His daughter did the same through Contra Costa County and the wait time for an appointment there was just as long.

"In Contra Costa County, the closest one was eight days, the closer one to me was within 10 days, and the whole reason was so that I could fly to Boise and visit my wife," Devlin said.

"It took 10 seconds, it's not painful and it's no big deal. And then they assured me that I'd know in four or five days," Devlin said. He sent our sister station KGO-TV a photo of a flyer he received after he took his test that said he will get results within three to six days.

As of this weekend, Devlin received a text saying his results are in but both he and wife couldn't access them online.

"You call Human Services and they say ... log into your account -- well I made a phone appointment, not an account," Devlin said.

"When I typed in his last name and his birth date it said we can't even locate you -- to pull up his results. So it's like, 'Are you kidding me?' That's his last name and that's his birth date," Valentine said.

On Saturday, the couple decided it would be easier just to fly into Boise and get tested there.

"This is too much, I'm flying you out here tomorrow, you're going take the test and you can fly home the same day," Valentine told her husband.

Valentine has taken the test three times and says pop-up testing tents have made testing very accessible.

"I would say within every three miles you'll find a white tent and you just drive-thru. It's been about two or three days for my experience to get the results back and in California, it's just not that way," Valentine said.

KGO-TV asked the couple if Devlin could be exposing others while traveling if he does have the virus.

"Working for the airlines, that's one of the questions, have you had a fever? Have you been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 in the past week? Those kinds of things. His answers would be no just like everybody else," Valentine said.

"I feel like I'm taking a risk definitely but we're taking a risk every day when we can't get an appointment, whether we can get a test and can't get results. If it takes too long to get an appointment and get a test, then what goods the test when you get the results because you've been out there, working?" Devlin said.

On Saturday evening, Dr. Matthew Willis, the Public Health Officer for Marin County Health and Human Services, released this statement about getting test results back:

"The unfortunate reality is that we do not have control over the lab processing time. I don't know where this person was tested but there are some laboratories that are so backed up that is taking more than a week to get results back. We have no control over that process it has to do with private labs and their ability to obtain the reagents in order to process the samples. I agree it's incredibly frustrating for us as well.

This is a statewide in fact national issue. And the governor has established a task force to tackle this problem. I spent a lot of time with the other health officers discussing our mutual frustration over delays in obtaining results."