Branson man denied COVID-19 testing, Taney County health officials say testing availability increasing

TANEY COUNTY, MO. -- A Branson man is sharing his story about a sickness his doctors call an "upper respiratory infection." He's concerned it could be coronavirus, but he's never been tested.

"I was having a lot of coughing, head congestion, sore throat but I didn't have any fever," Bobby London said.

London says his symptoms have gotten worse since he came home to Branson from a trip to St. Louis a few weeks ago, including a high fever.

"The peak was around 103," London said.

His doctor told him to go to the ER. Then, a few days later he had a virtual doctor's visit.

"They verified that I had an upper respiratory and viral infection. They could not test me for coronavirus," London said.

London says they didn't test him because he didn't fit the criteria for testing at that time. He says the nurse practitioner who conducted his virtual visit told him she would refer him for a test, but that he would still be turned away at a mobile testing site in Springfield due to not fitting the criteria.

"When I asked why, she said because you have not traveled outside of the US or been around anybody that has," London said.

According to the Taney County Health Department, there has been at least one confirmed case of COVID 19 in Taney County. However, London says being turned away for testing makes him wonder how many people possibly have the virus.

"It's important especially for the Branson area for there to be statistics to know if this virus is here," London said.

Officials with the Taney County Health Department say it's hard to know for sure.

"Obviously we hope that we don't have any other COVID cases in Taney County, but the reality is this is a problem across the nation," Director Lisa Marshall said.

Marshall says testing availability is improving in Taney County. Patients can get tested with health department kits, through commercial lab testing, or at the new mobile testing site now set up in Branson. However, in order to get tested, patients must get a referral from a doctor.

"There is no testing that will occur without a physician order," Marshall said.

As criteria to qualify for a test continues to change, London hopes it includes more people like him soon.

"I'm frustrated because I don't feel like the well-being of the American public is being considered," London said.

The director of the Taney County Health Department wants to stress that the public cannot simply show up to the mobile testing site. Every test begins with a doctor's referral. If you think you need to get tested, contact your doctor or do a free virtual visit with the code: COVID.