For the past couple of weeks there's been a rapid Covid test kit positioned at the center of the conference table in Mayor Frank Picozzi's office. It's a score from one of the forays staff members have made to area pharmacies and Walmart in search of the
For the past couple of weeks there’s been a rapid Covid test kit positioned at the center of the conference table in Mayor Frank Picozzi’s office. It’s a score from one of the forays staff members have made to area pharmacies and Walmart in search of the tests that disappear from shelves as soon as they appear. The mayor bought it.
What’s the test doing there?
I haven’t asked. Is it a trophy to be displayed? Is it like a standby first aid kit to be used by a visitor or staff member who sneezes or feels queasy? Or does it signify Picozzi and his administration will do whatever they can to get you a rapid test if you need it?
As of this week, it appears that Picozzi will have no shortage of tests. The question now is who should get them?
On Tuesday, the mayor disclosed almost parenthetically that the city would get 13,500 “at home tests (two tests per box) to give out to targeted groups” from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city was to pick up the kits yesterday from the state.
Picozzi said he hasn’t seen any guidelines from either FEMA of Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency on how to distribute the tests. The mayor quickly identified possible target groups. First on his list were the elderly and schools. The seniors he thought could be reached at elderly housing complexes, the library and the Pilgrim Senior Center where the kits would be available. Schools could make them available to teachers and parents who questioned whether they or their children might test positive.
What about eligibility?
Should the tests only be given to those displaying symptoms and are recipients required to report the results? Can the tests be given to those who feel perfectly fine but want to know they are fine so as not to infect loved one and fellow workers? Would people required to take a test for work or travel qualify for a free test?
Is that how the tests are to be distributed?
Picozzi said yesterday he was still waiting for guidance from the state.
The whole matter of tests doesn’t make sense in many cases.
Sure, it’s great to take a self-administered test and get a rapid answer of whether you’re positive or not. The problem is that to verify rapid test readings, whether negative or positive, you’re advised to get a PCR test. And the problem there is that you won’t get the results for three days if you’re lucky.
By then you could have contracted Covid and a negative PCR would give you a false sense of well-being and you could be a spreader. Likewise, you could have tested positive, but by the time you have the results no longer contagious.
The families of both my sons have faced this conundrum.
Jack is now working in Switzerland and he and his family face obtaining PCR tests results within three days of international flights. The three-day cutoff has proved challenging as often three days is the minimum time to get results. Ted and his family are up against the same thing. His mother in-law lives in Canada and for her to visit, or for them to come there, they go through test gyrations.
So why the panic to find and get tests – rapid or PCR – that show a condition at only a point in time? It makes sense if you have symptoms. You want to protect yourself and you don’t want to be a spreader. But at the first sneeze, do you race to get a rapid test? From the rationing of tests and lines, it makes you wonder people have panicked.
As for the tests the city is getting, there may not be a stampede to get them now that, as I learned yesterday from Liz Tufts in the mayor’s office, the government is mailing them free to those who want them. She provided the website: https://www.covidtests.gov/
I suppose it makes sense to have a kit available just in case.
But then I know where I find one on short notice.
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