BY MIRIAM DANZIS
I went to get tested for COVID-19 in June and it took ten days for the test results to come back. In that time I could have infected many people. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, and cases in the United States continue to grow, so does the number of people getting tested. While the increase in the amount of tests being given is beneficial, there are drawbacks to the way they are being administered. If a healthy person goes to a testing facility and is surrounded by those who may have the virus, getting tested could potentially expose them. Many test sites are also taking as long as a week to get results back. The process of getting tested needs to be safer and more efficient.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the amount of tests in Maryland per person has risen from 2.3 tests per 1,000 people to 2.5 tests per 1,000 people from July 21st to August 3rd. As kids start going back to school there will be an even higher demand for testing. Many testing facilities can not handle the amount of people who are coming in to get tested. This makes waiting rooms crowded, causing it to be nearly impossible to practice social distancing. The only way to truly help stop the spread is for everyone to wear a mask and to be properly socially distanced.
People should not risk contracting the virus while getting tested, it should be something that keeps everyone safe. One solution would be for testing facilities to have different times to come in depending on the reason for the visit. Facilities could do this by having appointments to limit the number of people in the facility at a given time. This would allow everyone to be safely distanced. It would also limit the amount of contact people have with others.
In addition to the aforementioned problems with the actual testing, many facilities are having trouble getting test results back quickly. As the United States consumes more tests, the strain on resources also grows. This makes it difficult to get test results back fast. In the time that people are waiting for their test results they could infect their family and anyone else they are in contact with. While many people isolate while waiting for their results, some people who do not have any symptoms and thus do not think that their test will be positive, may not end up isolating themselves. And for some people, isolating may not even be a viable option if their job requires them to work in person or if they need to care for others. At many testing facilities, it takes around 24 hours to run a test, but it could take several days to get these results back.
COVID-19 testing is so important to keep everyone safe, but there are many problems in the way tests are being administered. There is no way that we can get rid of the virus if testing is this big of a mess.