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So Far, 2022 is Testing Us 

Toss out an inquiry to nearly anyone you know about how their testing experience has been and you're sure to get a host of responses.

By now, the vast majority of us know the basic protocols: Stay home if you're sick. Wash your hands a lot. Wear masks in public places. Yep, got it. But two years into this pandemic, there's one part that we here in the U.S. have not gotten quite right, and it's becoming more clear as yet another variant-wave sweeps through, and the ones who are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick try to slog through the mire of getting through the day-to-day of life: Testing. So far, 2022 is showing that testing is testing us greatly.

Toss out an inquiry to nearly anyone you know about how their testing experience has been and you're sure to get a host of responses. If you have insurance, the majority of people we've talked to have had little trouble getting a test at their provider's office—and often even getting the results back quickly enough to go back to work the same day if they're found to be negative. Same goes for those who are able to sit in a car for several hours and wait in a testing line—often, you'll get your results back from somewhere like St. Charles sooner than they advertise. But if you're lacking insurance or reliable transportation or both—or you don't already have some rapid tests on hand at home, obtaining a test and getting the results can be a ride you didn't want to get on—and one that also involves snowy and icy roads, to boot.

  • Courtesy Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The Biden administration has announced that it plans to send some 500 million test kits to any American who wants one. That plan is still in the works. President Biden wishes he'd thought of this tactic two months ago, he told ABC News—long before the Omicron variant began to spread. Oregon reported close to 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the four days before we wrote this—and while officials believe the current variant is less deadly than the last one, testing is among the most potent tools we have to keep the economy running, to keep businesses afloat, roads cleared of snow, teachers healthy enough to continue teaching our kids and each and every essential service (including the ones that stave off the harsh effects of winter, like electricity) running.

If testing is so key, why, then, are so many of us completely clueless about it, now two years into the pandemic? It shouldn't take a move by the office of the President of the United States to remind us that yes, having a couple tests on hand—or even knowing where we can go and get a test quickly and easily—is key. But alas, testing is key.

What we do—each of us who wants this pandemic to end or to be stymied enough to keep our offices and schools and restaurants and governments open and running—is to take the time, now, before it may be needed, to establish a plan. Test kits at local pharmacies come and go, and rather than spending time, as a sick person in need of a test at that present moment, going from pharmacy to pharmacy and possibly infecting more people along the way, the best option is to get one or two before it's urgently needed. Pharmacies won't let people stockpile tests, but finding them before you need them, either online or locally, means you'll be one fewer person overwhelming the health care system when you get a sniffle and later find out it wasn't COVID. Finding out, whether you're insured or not, where you, personally, can get a test at a local clinic might mean that when you do need one, you're able to get in and get out and possibly even head back to work before you miss out on pay in the last-minute scramble.

The year 2022 is testing us, to be sure—and whether or not the Biden administration actually comes through with those free tests, it's crucial for each of us to have a plan, before we need to put it in place.

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