Monday, May 18, 2020

Pop up testing and my forever president

Did anyone catch President Obama's commencement address to the high school class of 2020 on Saturday night? It made me yearn for such classy, compassionate, and intelligent leadership right now. My favorite part of what he said: "Be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us—sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed—and set the world on a different path."

I won't pretend that I didn't also relish the thought that my forever president's address to the nation's high school graduates, who will be new voters in November, would make the orange monster's head explode. So much for high mindedness.

I read a piece this morning bemoaning the fact that covid tests are now widely available yet not enough people are coming forward to get them The city is popping up testing sites in churches and parking lots, and even on streetcorners, to encourage more people to get tested either for the virus or its antibodies. Reading the report, I felt a little sheepish, as I have been banging the drum about the need for widespread testing for months now. So why haven't I availed myself of the chance to finally be tested?

Back when I had a cold in week two of the quarantine, I had made an appointment to get a covid test. This was after I realized that I'd likely been exposed by my choir mates sitting to the immediate left and right of me in rehersals. One of them later tested positive for covid, after being in bed with fevers and a cough and a blinding headache for weeks. The other tested negative, and decided that she'd simply had the flu. My own testing date was set for the following week, but a couple of days before they cancelled the appointment, saying they were no longer testing anyone except those who were being admitted to hospitals.

A couple weeks ago, the same testing outfit began emailing me and inviting me to make a new appointment. Why haven't I done so? For a few reasons, actually.

Since the pandemic began, I have personally known several people who without a doubt had the virus. One suffered with pneumonia and struggled for breath for weeks. She also had a searing pain that she said felt like fire inside her back and chest, which her doctor could not explain. She was admitted to the hospital but then was sent home after a day, with inhalers and antibiotics and flu medicine. Two months later she is still not right. She is fatigued just walking across the room. But slowly, she's improving. She can breathe more easily now, and no longer fears that when she goes to sleep at night, she wont wake up. Yet her covid test came back negative.

Another friend was hospitalized twice, in very critical respiratory distress, yet he tested negative twice in the hospital. After he recovered, he took the antibody test, and sure enough it was positive. In another family we know, the teenage daughter got sick with all the symptoms of covid. She recovered quite well, but her test, too, was negative. Her parents are convinced it was a false result.

All of this has undermined my confidence in the accuracy of the covid tests, which are said to have as high as a 30 percent false result. Another article I read suggested the antibody test can be a crap shoot, too. The article investigated 14 different antibody tests currently in use and found that only two of them gave accurate results 98 percent of the time.

Another consideration: Testing negative for covid today doesn't mean I won't be infected with it tomorrow, or even today, and even at the center where I might go to have the test performed. That's another reason I haven't rushed to get tested. Still, if I were to come down with symptoms, at least now I know I could get a test, even if the result had up to a 30 percent chance of being wrong.

So I'm not complaining about the absence of tests anymore, at least not in New York City. Now I'm arguing for better quality control, so that we can weed out the tests that are poor and settle on the ones with a greater degree of accuracy. I guess there's no pleasing me. Am I wrong to not get the test now that it's become more widely available? I'm totally open to arguments that will change my mind.


  1. I keep reading that the tests are widely available here but I’ve checked the sites (library in my country and the next county over) twice and no testing tents. I wonder how much it will cost. I fear we must be sick here to get tested. I still look to Obama as my leader. Love you.

  2. I suppose if you were thinking of going out into the world on a regular basis, going back to work in a public place, that kind of thing -- it would be good to get a test. Even if there's a chance it might not be accurate, it's better than nothing.

    But if you're staying home and isolating, I'm not sure I see the point. I haven't been tested myself.

  3. They are asking people to get tested here and have set up places to do so BUT I hear that the state of Florida isn't publishing data so what's the point? If I thought that the antibody test was halfway accurate I might be inclined to get that to see if the flu Glen and I got in February may have been Covid but I don't trust the accuracy and having antibodies does not automatically confer immunity. So again- what's the point?
    The test for Covid is free but the antibody test is not.
    I can't even talk about how much I miss Barack Obama. We were living in a dreamworld and we didn't even know it. Well, we sort of did. Now we're living in a nightmare and it's all too real.

  4. I haven't gotten tested either and don't see the point unless I'm having symptoms though a week ago last Saturday there was a free testing site set up here for anyone who wanted one. they all came back negative was the report I saw. I'm still staying at home, going out for groceries though today I went to the feed store to get one item and then the recycling station where I saw no one. I was wearing a mask but none of the employees or the one other customer was at the feed store. people are getting complacent plus I live in a very Republican town even though Texas had it's biggest new case count Saturday after partially opening up the state and I guess it's on track to open the rest of the way. stupid idiots.

  5. Mary has explained a lot already.
    Why do you want to be tested? If you think you may have had iot, you need an antibody test but these are not (yet) reliable and can show false positive results.
    Many manufacturers have very quickly thrown such tests onto the market. Without having these tests independently examined. Some of these "simple rapid tests"have been scrutinised and failed to distinguish between the covid-19 and other viruses.
    There will be reliable antibody testing avaiulable, but it isn't yet.

    If you have symptoms, anything that makes yopu feel you are currently ill with the virus, you should get tested. The test for this situation is a PCR test, the one with the nasal/throat swab. This test is most reliable if done during the first 5-7 of infection, when the viral load is highest. As the illness progresses, the body starts an immune response, which causes a fever etc. and the further this immune response has developed, the less specific the test becomes and it can even be negative.
    As for the positive test results in people who seemingly have recovered: the virus' rna/dna can be detected in a person's blood, stool, tissue for weeks after the disease but in all the tests done since, this was never active virus, just the rests.

    The immunologists here tell us that based on current findings and what is known about other corona viruses, immunity after covid 19 infection is fairly certain, albeit not forever, but possibly for up to 18 months.

    Stay well, take care, we will get through this.All of this.

  6. All the reasons you list for not getting the test are what I'm hearing as well. False negative abound. And the tests are but a moment in time; you could get tested tomorrow and be negative and by Friday you'd have tested positive. I suppose the only reasons I would get tested are if I had symptoms, or to add to the national data base (even though results are not 100% accurate). Colorado announced today that anyone who wants a test can get it through their health care providers or drive up centers.

    I'll look for President Obama's speech. I crave his intelligence and big heart. What a true gem of a man he is.

  7. I miss Obama's presence and am always glad when he takes the stage and speaks. I need to be reminded of intelligence and what it sounds like.
    About testing, I agree with you. There are places here set up for testing, but I don't plan to go unless I become symptomatic. These are such challenging times.

  8. I would feel the same about testing - until the tests are more reliable, they aren't getting good data.

    You made me smile about "so much for high mindedness" as I had the same thoughts myself. That man brings out the very worst in everyone, doesn't he? And Obama brings out the best. I know which one I'd want as a leader - in fact which one I DO want as a leader, even though I'm in a completely different country.

  9. "... First, don't be afraid.
    ... Second, do what you think is right.
    ....And finally, build a community."

    I'll be remembering President Obama suggestions during the many times for the rest of my life when I am facing a challenge of any kind.

    And I'll remember this:

    "You won't get it right every time, you'll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth that's inside yourself, even when it's hard, even when its inconvenient, people will notice."

    When President Obama was elected, I must admit that feared for his life, feared that he would be assassinated, just as President Kennedy had been assassinated. Thank goodness that President Obama is still here, speaking his truth.

  10. I'll have to watch that commencement address! We sorely miss Obama... as for testing, we haven't and probably won't unless we are symptomatic unless our state starts rolling out new decrees.

  11. I'm not sure we have testing in AZ. There was an article about a blitz, but we never saw anyone setting up stations. I'm not doing it. The flu swab hurt a lot, and the Covid test looks like a longer swab. We go to the grocery store and that's it. We both really want to go to Home Depot, but it's not worth dying for. I haven't been sick, so no swab for me!

  12. Based upon my own reading, I believe your concerns are valid regarding the current tests and I hesitate to use public transportation or someone else's car to go to a testing place which may expose me to the virus when my chances staying home are much lower. Is that commencement speech online?

  13. Having a REAL President is something I Miss too, perhaps come November we can finally be rid of this Psycho pretending to be Presidential material. The Testing I Hope is available to anyone who needs or wants it, unless I felt I had COVID and needed to know, I wouldn't want to waste the resource that is limited, I don't care what anyone says, we don't have hardly any being done in our State so it should be reserved to keep Essential Workers Safe for now here. I'm appalled at how few people aren't wearing Masks already now, about a 50-50 split and I would think it runs along Political Lines, which is just a whole other level of Stupid I can't fathom about The Cult. But then again, all Cults have been wacko and those who join them easily manipulated sorts who must have some very peculiar voids in Life.

  14. The Covid test is or was for me not pleasant but at least it was fairly quick. Truth be told it was awful but one of my nurses said to try to relax and breathe in steady deep breaths and try not to flinch and that would make it easier. It was the hospital policy to test everyone that was admitted into the hospital and the nursing team was so supportive and I loved seeing how they supported their fellow nurses and Co-workers.
    I got the sweetest card from my health team and when I pulled the card out of the envelope glitter and confetti rained down. It really brought a smile of delight for me and the baby was standing close so he could see and the glitter and confetti showered him. He still has glitter in all that dark hair lol.

    Have a beautiful day my sweet friend... Hugs.