You Don’t Need A COVID-19 Test

…probably.  Yes, one or two of you do, but if so you’re in the hospital right now because you can’t breathe, and so you’re probably not reading this.

Bear in mind:  I’m writing this with a persistent sore throat, bad lungs, and a massive case of paranoia.  It might just be the damned cherry blossoms and the annual pollen dump; it might be the coronavirus.  I have no clue, and I really want to know.  Because if I really am sick, that means that when it’s gone in a couple weeks, I can leave the house again.  (If I survive, that is.  Can’t forget that.)

But what if this is just allergies, or a flu bug, or a nasty head cold?  In that case, I’ll leave the house in three weeks just to get sick again.  That’s not good at all — especially since I’m starting off with a pretty crappy set of lungs — and I’ll have just been sick.

I’m sure you’re right there with me.  You want to get tested just as bad as I do.

The trouble isn’t that there’s no test kits or swabs.  They exist; we’re presently running some 25,000 COVID tests a day, and the assembly lines are working flat out.  No, the bottleneck is in the labs.  There’s only just so many places that can run the samples, and they have a limited capacity.

Imagine if everyone in the country got a COVID test — there’s 330 million of us, don’t forget.  Takes a person ten minutes to ram that swab to the back of your sinuses and spin it around (ouch!), so if they work eight hours a day at maximum efficiency that tech can do 48 tests.  But then there also has to be someone to work the waiting room, someone to package and address and file, someone else to run the test to the lab, and don’t forget the lab needs a full staff — we’re talking a dozen people, and that doesn’t include the folks wiping down the waiting room chairs with disinfectant every fifteen minutes.

That means if there were a million people working full time just to give everyone tests, it would take about four months to run them all.  But there aren’t; there are about 310,000.  And some of those are home sick, because guess who’s been hanging out with sick people for the past two weeks?  Oh, and each COVID test takes about 45 minutes at the lab, not ten.  If you’ve lost track, we’re now up to four years.

Plus, don’t forget that the medical labs have other tests to run too.  People are having heart attacks and getting cancer and Alzheimer’s at the same rate they did before this mess started.  Our hospitals and clinics generally run at 90-95% of their base capacity most of the time (regulations vary by state, but not much).  And, while fewer people will be catching the flu or, say, STDs for the next few weeks, there’s still more than enough for hospitals to do without you going in with your runny nose.

So when I hear someone complaining about how there should be tests enough for everyone — well, sure; in an ideal world there would be.  But there’d also be a few million more nurses and med techs and lab workers.  I hear LabCorp is hiring; why not go and be the change you want to see in the world?  Go work with some sick people!

If your answer is no, quit yer bitching.

This goes double for anyone who wants to blame the Chinese for this mess.  China locked down half their country for four months, rather brutally from our point of view; we wouldn’t put up with that level of sacrifice.  Over here, the grocery stores are still open and you can get a pizza delivered.

And then there’s the people who are blaming Trump or Congress or whoever because there’s not enough masks or toilet paper or tests.  You know who hoarded the toilet paper?  You did.  Your neighbor bought Costco out of sanitizer and your cousin robbed the supply closet at the clinic so he could sell masks online.  It takes years to train a nurse; even with a national emergency crash program it wouldn’t have been enough.  Besides, do you really want the brand-new intern working the quarantine floor?  “Oops, I forgot my gloves again!”

Blame Congress in a few days if there’s no emergency checks going out to the population.  That’s the sort of thing Congress can and should do.

Everything else is up to you.

Nobody’s offered an emergency bail-out to me because of this plague either — and I don’t get unemployment.  Heck, I just found out Netflix stole my website name for one of their movies, and I didn’t get paid for that either.  Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

It’s a fun take on the Spenser novels, though, so you should watch it.  Spenser: Confidential, and see if you can spot the guy they have playing me.

Meanwhile, the least you can do is buy me a coffee.  I’m gonna need it.

Buy Me A Coffee

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