I noticed an odd thing amidst the Omicron surge. COVID isn’t breaking me. At least not presently, even though some say it’s the 681st day of March 2020.
I attribute it to being so damn vigilant over the past two years that the normal things felt, well, special. Our church was meeting in person from Father’s Day until Epiphany. And I attended, in person, all of those times when I was in town. The fact that we’re now experiencing a “pause” in in-person worship, while mildly disappointing, is totally understandable.
I hadn’t sung in the church between March 8, 2020, and December 12, 2021. Then I got to sing on Christmas Eve! So I know I won’t go another 21 months again. Right? I’ve been to films in movie theaters, and I saw a musical. Not going again right now. But eventually, yes?
My daughter’s district has gone remote for a week and a half. Yes, being in school is better; we know that. But when 25% of local school infections targeting are teachers and staff, it becomes logistically difficult to sustain. In any case, my daughter can con her loving father into making her lunch.
But I remain mystified by how inadequate the testing continues to be. With at-home kits largely unavailable, I decided to go to the NY State rapid test site at Crossgates. I entered my ZIP Code and the first result was for White Plains, NY, only two hours away. The next suggestion was for somewhere in Texas. Finally, I secured Wednesday, January 5.
The website said that walk-ins would also be accepted, so I got in line when my bus got me to the mall at 9:17 for a 10:10 appointment. The instructions that I should get there 15 minutes early. I’m 30th in line. EVERYONE is wearing a mask outdoors which is both unusual and comforting. For about 10 minutes, the line wasn’t moving. And it’s literally freezing out there – 32F according to my phone.
A few folks actually went to the front of the line, who I assumed had earlier appointments. But I wasn’t really in a hurry until 9:45 when I was still 10th in line. A guy wearing shirt-sleeved scrubs – did I mention it was 0 degrees C? – came out and said there should be TWO lines. That’s one for those who are registered, and another for those who aren’t, but that they need to register too. Note about giving instructions: YOUR left when you are facing us is OUR right. I’m certain that many of the folks in line had TRIED to get into the system earlier, but they wouldn’t have had the location code.
Who’s in charge of logistics?
By now, I’m third in the registered line. The guy in the scrubs, who had a face shield, asked if everyone could hear him. I’m 10 feet away and I can barely make out what he was saying. So I turned and barked the info to the two dozen people behind me.
Finally, I get inside at 10 a.m. The venue was a defunct Ruby Tuesday’s. We’re directed to some restaurant booths, where they take our registration info and give us each a slip of paper with a code. Then we move to the bar and subsequently another set of booths. Lots of jokes by us about the setting; someone asked when the buffet would be ready, e.g. I get my swab and leave at 10:25, instructed not to go into the mall proper until I received a negative test.
And within 30 minutes, I received the negative results, which is positive. My experience was much better than a friend of mine who spent 2.5 hours the day before and never did get tested.
I suppose I didn’t really NEED to get the swab. But the day before the test, I discovered that someone with whom I had contact tested positive, though asymptomatic, only a few days earlier. Then I learned two more people likewise were infected.
What is the definition of close contact? “Close contact through proximity and duration of exposure: Someone who was less than 6 feet away from an infected person [check] for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” [Well, no, fortunately].