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NEWTON — A 2011 Newton High School graduate home for vacation thought it best to get tested for COVID-19, but things did not turn out the way Tyler Prozika planned.

He wasn’t tested for COVID-19 and still got a big bill. Including walk in fees, his bill was about $1,200.

"It was laughable because it was so absurdly expensive. I couldn't even process it without laughing," Prozika said.

Axtell Clinic has reached out to Prozika to try and put some discounts in place and work with him to pay that bill. At this time, about $900 remains.

Following guidelines from Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Newton Medical Center, Prozika called a primary care clinic when he started having mild symptoms. He was suffering from aching muscles, fatigue and chest pain. The CDC has posted a list of symptoms for COVID_19 — the most common is a high fever.

However, Prozika is a debate coach in Taiwan, and in January, he and his students visited China, where he came into contact with students from Wuhan, the city the coronavirus outbreak started.

"My dad is in his 50s and my brother seems to get sick easily, so I decided I better go see what the doctor suggested based on my experience and travel history," Prozika said.

That travel history satisfied one of the epidemiologic risks on the KDHE COVID-19 testing form, but he did not satisfy the "critical features" — a fever of more than 100 degrees, lower respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and other respiratory tests performed coming back negative.

"The clinic told me based on my travel history they would look into the coronavirus and she examined me for any signs of pneumonia," Prozika said. "The nurse told me my test should be free because the CDC wants to track this down.

"A few days later they left a voicemail saying I was negative and didn't mention I was denied a COVID-19 test. They tested me for a bunch of other coronaviruses and issues but not COVID-19."

KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said Kansas is working with its own vendors for new, faster tests. State labs are adding new equipment to expand testing.

"We have been limited by the amount of testing that we can do," Norman said.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed an executive order, putting the entire state under a stay-at-home order through April 19.

Based on his travel history, and his contacts in Asia, Prozika sees the response to COVID-19 in the United States — and Kansas — as behind the curve. He does not believe the virus is being taken seriously enough.