You know how they say “anybody can get a test” for coronavirus? Well, maybe, but it’s not easy and you might have to lie. I did.
We’ve been quarantining with my family for two weeks and we were hoping to safely visit with Jeff’s family on our way back to Seattle. But just as we’re gearing up to leave, we get this coughing, lethargic family member and we’re troubled, obviously. It could be a weird summertime cold he’s experiencing or it could be Covid.
We’re all awaiting his test results, but in the meantime, I set about getting myself one of these tests that “anybody can get.”
I received a hot tip that a local urgent care center was providing tests to people who’ve been exposed. I decided to fib and say that I have been quarantining with someone who’s confirmed positive.
When I arrive, they tell me they’ve just run out of swabs so they’ll have to refer me to the local hospital drive-through testing site… where I tried to get a test two days ago and was rejected for not having active symptoms. Anyway, I found the loophole with my new referral. Suckers.
The urgent care center doctor tells me the hospital will call me to make an appointment. “And by the way,” he says, “the hospital lab is overwhelmed so I happen to know they are sending all swabs to Quest Labs. So is CVS pharmacy and so were we when we had swabs.”
He says they’ve been trying to track down Covid test results for their patients and Quest is running about 8 days to process results.
I called the hospital immediately after I left to see if they’d received my referral. The woman told me they respond to faxed referrals within 48 hours. So, sit tight, potentially infectious person.
Now, tell me how likely it is that someone who’s been exposed will self-quarantine for 48 hours while they wait to get tested, then eight more days for their results? NOT LIKELY!
But what about somebody who could get tested immediately and wait maybe 24 hours for results? Pretty darn likely!
It BLOWS MY MIND that after four months, we still have not figured out testing and tracing when we KNOW it’s the most effective way to manage infectious spread.
Testing and tracing is win-win for all of the unnecessarily politicized aspects of this virus, too. The more people know they have it – and the faster they know they have it – they will very likely do the right thing and stay home. It sure seems like the risk of transmission would decrease, public trust would increase, and businesses would benefit from both of these. But what do I know?