OPINION: Time again for COVID testing

When I was in California a couple of weeks ago it became evident I needed to get tested for COVID-19. This became clear the morning after I’d arrived, and so I was suddenly swept into a different kind of visit: I had planned on going to a baseball game (Giants vs. A’s), but instead I needed to get tested, and, as far as I was concerned, I needed to get tested right away.

Months ago, not all that long after I’d received my second vaccination shot, I experienced symptoms (and I’ll spare you the details) that gave me reason to think I needed to get tested. At the time it was pretty straightforward: I made an appointment, got in line at the local Community Health Center, had the person stick the thing up my nose and went back home. That evening I got the result.

The difference of a few months, and being in a different state, made things more complicated. I had to do some digging to find out how I could get tested and it was frustrating not being able to satisfy my sense of urgency. When I look at it now, I recognize things worked out pretty efficiently: I made an appointment, got tested the next day and received results the day after. But the uncertainty of those days was nerve-wracking. Being vaccinated was no guarantee, neither was not having symptoms. I was also aware the rise in cases meant receiving test results could take longer than usual.

This is what has been happening. The other day the Record-Journal reported that Meriden will set up a free COVID-19 testing site. It’s because infections are rising. Early this year the emphasis was on vaccinations. “Now we’re seeing a shift back to testing,” said Lea Crown, the city’s director of Health and Human Services.

While the renewed emphasis on testing is the right way to go, it’s also very discouraging. As of Sept. 9, the R-J’s Michael Gagne reported, the city had 114 confirmed and probable cases of the virus for the month. Compare that to 97 cases reported the entire month of September in 2020.

Here’s what I think: You ought to be able to get a test for COVID easily and quickly and get results easily and quickly, anything to decrease the time you have to wonder if you could be putting others at risk. That’s the battle, isn’t it? We’re trying to keep this thing from spreading.

The other important aspect is cost. Access to testing should be easy and cost free. Crown told the R-J there were anecdotal accounts of people being charged for testing, at $175 or higher. You don’t want people avoiding testing because of that.

A lot comes down to individual responsibility. Crown said the effort to keep the virus from spreading in schools involves the help of families. “We need parents to not send their children to school if they are feeling ill with symptoms of COVID-19, and keep their children who may have been told to quarantine home until their quarantine period is over,” she told the R-J.

The virus continues to keep us in a world of uncertainty. Maybe it’s because of that game I had to miss, but I had this weird thought that it’s like baseball, where individual performance is isolated, on the field and at the plate, and yet is so important to team effort. Everybody has to do their part for the overall effort to work. We’ll need that to move our prospects up in the standings.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at jkurz@record-journal.com.

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