The latest reports we have been getting from the most carefully protected area in the United States of America, the White House, and the many Covid-19 infections attacking the President and the many high-level personnel in the administration and their families remind us that testing for Covid-19 means nothing.
Even receiving test results from Covid-19 testing means nothing.
The important question, never it seems answered, is how much time before my Covid-19 test results showed that I had it, was I infectious to others? How long could I have given Covid-19 to others before I even suspected that I had it?
I have heard that I am most able to pass it on about 24 hours before the onset of my first symptoms, the symptoms I imagine that suggested I get that test. So, what, two or three days before I discover I’m infected, I’m passing Covid-19 on to family, friends, nearby strangers?
Until we have a time machine that allows us to go backwards and change our infectious behavior, I guess we have to push for a greater number of Covid-19 tests that are more reliable, faster developing. And get on that contact tracing, too. And certainly, press for that vaccine that will eventually, we all hope, make Covid-19 a thing of the past like smallpox.
But until then, when we have all that and maybe a time machine as well, the most important thing we can all do is wash, mask, distance, stay home.
It is true that while Covid-19 cases seem to be on the rise, the number of deaths that were once more than 2500 per day have now been reduced to about 750 per day. (How cavalierly I say that “only” 750 of our fellow citizens die each day from this scourge!”
We should be careful to regard this reduced number as success of treatment or lessening of Covid-19’s virulence. Could it be that so many very vulnerable persons have died, as in nursing homes and the like, that there are fewer persons with co-existing pathologies that increase the rates of death? And how much “comfort” do we really want to take at reports of reduced rates of death when increased rates of infection are likewise reported?
If we don’t concentrate on what we can each do (wash, mask, distance, stay home), and wait for a test that can only tell us if we did (or did not) have Covid-19 in sufficient severity that it showed up on that test when we took it, we are pretty much asking for it, aren’t we?
And if that vaccine that we have been hearing about is slow in coming, or shows up with significant side-effects, or maybe protects only a small proportion of the population, or maybe protects only a small proportion of the population, or maybe protects only for a short period of time, will we then go back to relying on washing, masking, distancing, and staying home? Will “important persons” underwrite those simple, individually effective protective behaviors, even those “important persons” who have not, as yet, caught Covid-19?
And whether “they” do or not, will you?