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Letters to the Editor: Want more COVID-19 tests? Let pharmacists do them

A paramedic administers a COVID-19 test at the Balboa Sports Center in Encino last week.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Speaking as a professor of pharmacy law and ethics, I believe the lack of access and long turnaround times for COVID-19 testing can be addressed in part by permitting pharmacists to collect specimens from patients and process these on “point of care” devices that can report results in minutes. (“No, the U.S. Isn’t ‘Winning’ at Coronavirus Testing. But We Could Be,” editorial, July 26)

Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers, but current laws and regulations preclude pharmacists from performing such tests. Both the California Society of Health System Pharmacists and the California Pharmacists Assn. have been working with state legislators and regulators to permit pharmacists to perform not only COVID-19 tests, but tests for influenza and strep throat as well.

The other issue is payment: Currently there is no compensation for pharmacists who perform such services from third-party insurance as well as Medicare and Medicaid, which is perhaps what’s preventing patients from receiving rapid testing by a healthcare professional.

Robert L. Stein, Claremont

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The writer is a professor at the Keck Graduate Institute’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

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To the editor: This is putting the cart before the horse. Until we have an assertive message from all sections of society that COVID-19 is the clear and present danger to all of us, testing and contact tracing are futile.

President Trump has to speak and behave so that he consistently communicates to Republican officials and his 60 million-plus supporters that the coronavirus is a silent assassin putting our country at risk. Comments about how the virus will disappear have to end, now.

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Germany, Thailand, Italy, Taiwan and South Korea have not and do not aspire to test 10% of their populations weekly, as this editorial suggests be done in the United States, yet they have all been successful at exerting significant control over their national epidemics. Their commonality is the universal message that COVID-19 must be controlled.

Without that message, we will continue to be pushing the cart, now and into the future.

Mark Tracy, Carlsbad


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