Testing for Coronavirus

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans      Stage one reopening in New Orleans this weekend was a snoozer, and hardly different from the previous two solid months of stay-at-home orders and restrictions.

The new requirements issued by the governor and hardened somewhat by the mayor only allow 25% capacity in restaurants making reopening more about a commitment to service than an economic choice.  Spacing is required.  Customers cannot be allowed to enter without a mask.  Their names and coordinates have to be logged in by the staff, also masked with regular temperature checks.  More outdoor seating is allowed with the same restrictions.

Fair Grinds Coffeehouse extended its hours until 1pm to greet the change after the two-month drought where we were only open three hours daily.  Longtime regulars complained about the masks and name taking.  Chaco told them to take it up with the mayor.  If they weren’t grousing, they wouldn’t be our regulars.  People clearly are tentative about the virus and whether everything is really alright now.  The mayor used the metaphor of opening the faucet to a trickle now rather than letting a flood of water roar out of the pipes.  It seemed more like a drip from a leak.  It’s going to take a while.

Public health experts everywhere say that there has to be more testing to create both recurrence prevention and a feeling of popular security.  What’s the plan there?  I’m clueless.  I know, roughly, the number that the politicians and bureaucrats outside of the White House say that we need, but there seems to be no concerted efforts to do mass testing.  It all seems laissez faire like voter registration.  If you really want a test, you can find it, but if not, c’est la vie.

There also seems to be a mismatch of capacity to demand.  Press reports indicate that some areas of the country don’t have enough tests, while others have too many.

I found myself in line for a test across from Ochsner’s main hospital on Saturday.  I was scheduled for 12:30 PM.  They had asked what make and color of pickup truck I drove. I was ready for a line.  I arrived at 12:20. I had to ask the masked guard if I was in the right place.  No one was around although there were finally some signs.  He radioed ahead to confirm my name was on the list.  I drove forward.  A nurse in full protection including a mask and face shield came over to the truck window.  She couldn’t have been nicer, as she chatted with me like she had all the time in the world.  No one was behind me in line when I had pulled up.  She said it would be quick and that my eyes might water.  She then stuck a long, thin stick up each of my nostrils.  It didn’t hurt, and it was uncomfortable.  My eyes didn’t water, but I felt like I was about to sneeze.  She said I would have the results in 24-hours.  Mine were negative on all counts.

This doesn’t seem so hard.  Why can’t we do more and better?