It's a difficult scenario.
It sounds as if, indeed, this nurse has Covid-19. She's "currently sick and in quarantine," presumably at home. This indicates that assuming she is Covid-19 + that she currently has a mild case. Clearly there are lots of mild cases that never need hospitalization. So just what good is seeing a "positive" for Covid-19 on a piece of paper, going to do, versus a "presumptive +?" The reality is, it won't do any good other than convincing this nurse that she truly is infectious and therefore she should honor the quarantine.
As MunroRN states: "For hospitalized patients it's extremely important to identify whether or not coronavirus is the culprit since it does actually guide decision making." The nurses' case is obviously mild, the patients that MunroRN refers to are far from mild.
She "need(s) to know if I am positive before going back to caring for patients." Fair enough, and she won't be allowed back until she has a negative test. Two weeks hence the amount of tests may be exponentially more available that on the day she wrote her statement. When she wrote her statement clearly there was a severe shortage. The shortage might not last.
The nurse says: "I am appalled at the level of bureaucracy that’s preventing nurses from getting tested." Perhaps she should be appalled/concerned to the question of just why there are not plenty of tests available. Clearly CDC has had problems with tests. Clearly CDC has had problems with fixing an early issue, then producing tests, then facilitating testing centers. Whether we should be appalled is a question that is not readily answered. One does not "snap their fingers," and a valid, reliable, test with high specificity and sensitivity instantly appears. Still, there are enough questions that we are left wondering about how efficiently this crisis has been dealt with. The question of why there are not adequate tests/test facilities can't be answered (or won't be) today, but they will sometime in the future.
Nurse SMS mentions, "... testing doesn't sway treatment all that much, but what it DOES impact is tracking the spread..." "Tracking" is extremely important. Known exposure tracking and isolation stops the virus dead in its track (assuming infected individuals do honor isolation). Once tracking breaks down and "community spread," occurs, the ability to stop the spread of the virus ceases. One cannot stop the spread of a virus that cannot be seen.
SubieRN states: "It matters to that nurse if she is trying to submit a worker's compensation claim for her medical costs or complications. If she doesn't have a positive test on record, then her employer can claim no harm, no foul."
Interesting subject SubieRN. Workers' Comp is state-related. Based on my experience in Massachusetts, you may be correct. In New Hampshire, you probably are incorrect. In Vermont you are undoubtedly incorrect, that's my take based on my WC case management in three states. If complications occur, that would likely put her back into hospital where she (might) would be tested. Perhaps some lawyers do not fear the virus.
Walti states, "As always, work acquired illness is going to be denied as it cannot be proven that it was not community acquired." True, however I'll bet that as time goes by tests will become far more available and for a health-care-worker who cared for any proven + patient, WC will kick in. For mild cases such as the one discussed, WC really does not matter much, most states do not pay wages for a week or two anyway. Also, undoubtedly antibody tests will likely become available even if the virus does not create a lot of antibodies. Workers' Comp can be nightmarish, or not.
Brownbook asks "Is it time to panic yet?"
Panic serves a function. "They (panic/anxiety) are a goad to action." (Neuman, The Evolution of an Anxious Feeling, Psychology Today, 2014). Perhaps the extent of either should be taken into account.
Just an hour ago I said "no," to a job that I had applied for, and had just been given an offer. (It was a 6-week temp, non-medical, but very well-paying job) If I was age 48, I would have said, "yes," but I'm not, I'm (almost) 70. According to Roser & Ritchie Ritchie in the excellent article "Coronavirus Disease (COVID 19) (Updated March 9, 2020) there is a graph showing "Coronavirus: early-stage case fatality rates by age-group in China which shows increasing age is correlated with higher case fatality rates. If I were aged 48 then 2 cases out of 100 might die. But I'm 70 and (at least based upon China's data) an expected 8 out of 100 might die and if 80 or older then almost 15 out of 100 might die. The 15/100 chance does not bother me as much as knowing that if 15/100 die that means that probably 35/100 end up in hospital and I hate hospitals.
Therefore, I'd say that panic would be unwise but risk analysis for oneself or one's loved ones (or when consulting with an anxious client) might be wise.
In my case I was not anxious in the short-term because I live in a rural area in New Hampshire. NH has four cases and there does not appear to be experiencing "community spread." However if I had accepted this job that I just said "no" to, training would be close to Massachusetts.
Cases just rose 68% in the state of Massachusetts last night. I reviewed them and, not that it matters much, my opinion is that in MA "community spread" is likely existent. My prediction (which I hope is wrong) will see Massachusetts in an increasing "community spread," over some months, possibly exponential increase. I analyzed and thought, under my circumstances, the risk was greater than the reward. I'll find another job when things calm down.
Therefore the usefulness of panic/anxiety really depends upon the person(s) and their situation. The real problem with panic is that it's often herd-type panic without a useful direction. You can see this in a Youtube video where a fellow at Costco has over 130 rolls of toilet paper stacked on his cart for a disease that doesn't create diarrhea. Should things get really rough, perhaps he intends to eat the TP. I think he would have been better off buying some rice and beans.