If Only People Weren’t Dying

If only people weren’t dying, we could do this Covid thing as theater. There are lots of little dramatic elements to build on. Without Covid, this one week of my life would have been mundane, unworthy of notice. But Covid has given me lots to talk about.

I’ve already told you about the “one person” rule for hospital visitors wherein “one person” does not mean “one person at a time.” The challenge of getting to Canada has filled the rest of the week with enough drama to last to the end of the year. 

We aren’t there yet, but I’m hopeful we can cross the border tomorrow with passports, proof of being vaccinated, and proof of negative test results. “Charlie” got tested yesterday, and I got tested at 8:00 a.m. today. Yes, folks, I was out of bed, had had my coffee, was dressed, and had walked the half mile to the walk-in Covid test site nearby by 8:00 a.m. If that doesn’t demonstrate motivation to get across that border, the work I went to to get that 8:00 a.m. appointment surely does. 

On Wednesday, I made an appointment for my test for 2:50 p.m. on Thursday. Then I tried to make an appointment for Charlie. He doesn’t have a patient chart at UW Medicine, so I was directed to an online site where I was asked for name, address, insurance card number, and on and on. I know this isn’t necessary for a Covid test, so I started over from another direction. We even considered paying the $165 for an appointment at a test site for airport and cruise ship travelers. Eventually, I got him an appointment for 2:00 Thursday by calling UW Medicine and pleading my case with a wonderful human on the other end of the phone. 

We showed up at the testing site at 2:00, hoping I could get my test with him, but prepared to wait around until 2:50 if I had to. Ha. It seems that I had made my appointment for NEXT Thursday at 2:50. Good grief! What good is a Covid test a week from now? Even if we were not hoping to cross the border within our 72 hour window, if I’m worried that I might have Covid, I want to know ASAP! Not a week from now. Well, another wonderful human being decided to fit me in at 8:00 a.m. today, hence the dramatic difference in the start to my day. 

As I was waiting for the test station to open up, a much younger woman got in line behind me. She asked if I was getting tested for travel purposes. Good thing she asked. I was able to tell to avoid the word “travel” at all costs. So many of us assume that if we’re going to get on a plane or train or cross a border, it makes sense to get a test. And it does. But Covid rules are being interpreted as if anyone who travels is wealthy, doing so for frivolous reasons, and “not our problem.” Hence the cost of the test for travelersI’m pretty sure that Washington state’s Covid information page says anyone can get tested for free. The trick is that once you get tested, there’s no guarantee how fast you’ll get the results. We all remember the early days of Covid, way back in the dark ages of 2020, when it could take up to five days to get results; it was impossible to do useful contact tracing on a timely basis. So to suck wannabe travelers into paying for tests today, the traveler-specific test sites promise results in 24 hours. Free test sites say online that there’s no guarantee when you’ll get results. But in actuality, everyone at my test site today was told that results would be available in 12-24 hours. Harumph.

Aside from my personal Covid drama this week, there’s lots more drama across the country. The Texas governor who has railed against masks and vaccines has tested positive and has to isolate himself. The Florida governor has learned that not all of his flamboyant gestures are popular with the people. As hospitals are filling up again, we’re learning that some hospital employees are not thrilled to be saving the lives of people who could have protected themselves with masks, vaccines, and avoiding crowds. In fact, some are just quitting. Many are taking jobs in less stressful health care settings.

I’ll confess I’m stunned by the number of people who are making Covid-related resistance the focus of their lives right now. Just for one example, many of the people who were gearing up to fight against Critical Race Theory in schools and workplaces have diverted their energy to the fight against masks and vaccines. News from Afghanistan (!!!) has managed to find some space on front pages of our daily newspapers, but often it’s alongside the latest Covid drama. It didn’t have to be this way.

If only people weren’t still dying of Covid, we could just sit back and enjoy the crazy drama of it all. If only.

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