Pandemic Confusion Even After All These Years

Canada COVID-19 Health Care

   Montreal         Increasingly, I have to say, all airline travel has become epic in the pandemic.  Going to Montreal for the ACORN Canada Year End / Year Begin meeting was another mountain climb, but this note is less about “misery loves company,” and more about how even two years into this global horror, we’re still all confused about what we’re doing and what it all means.

            Take tests for example.  Canada now pretty much stands alone in requiring a PCR test within 72-hours of travel into the country.  Most countries, like the United Kingdom, United States, and European Union require an antigen test.  The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 is a molecular test that analyzes your upper respiratory specimen.  Reacting to your DNA, doctors can use the PCR test as a diagnostic aid, if you test positive, according to Cleveland Clinic.  Antigen-based tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They’re often called rapid tests, as they typically provide results in less than an hour. In general, antigen tests are used by a health care professional or trained operator at point-of-care.  If you’re basically just screening for who has or doesn’t have the virus at some level, the antigen is good enough and usually, results are available in as little as 15-minutes rather than one to three days, so it instructs action quickly if infected.

            Arriving from Honduras to New Orleans on a Sunday afternoon, no tests are available, but leaving for Canada meant being first in line at the National Guard testing station in New Orleans at 8AM on a Monday with a 7AM flight on a Wednesday.  Nothing like the added stress and drama of talking to Toronto about plans to change the flight, when I didn’t get the negative PCR results until almost 9PM, on Tuesday night.  I made it through all of the hoops and finally got to Canada on this, my second try, but darned if I didn’t get lucky again and end up in the line for yet another PCR test after clearing Customs.  With an antigen test scheduled Friday afternoon in the 24-hour window the US requires, I’m becoming a lab specimen myself!

            Talking to the ACORN Canada senior staff, we quickly went down a deep hole on understanding quarantines impacting the already vaccinated.  The US Center for Disease Control is clear about this:

Quarantine if you have been in close contact (within 6 feet of someone for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) with someone who has COVID-19, unless you have been fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 5-7 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.

That’s if we care about “just the facts, ma’am,” but it doesn’t account for the fear and loathing of Covid, which has been part of the virus legacy that will continue with us for even longer, despite the huge strides we have made in public health and understanding, along with the vaccines.  Just saying be careful, but don’t be afraid of people, just be wise about the rules of the road now.