U.S. Regulators Are Failing the (Rapid) Test

Dear Capitolisters,

Two Saturdays ago, right after my daughter’s school year began, we learned that one of her classmates tested positive for COVID-19. (Fortunately, the student was not seriously ill.) The initial informal notice was followed by a more formal one Sunday afternoon about the school’s COVID-19 protocols for this situation, in particular whether our daughter was—per the CDC guidelines and internal school procedures—in sufficiently close contact with the infected student to require testing or quarantine. Turns out, we were in the clear, and nothing more was required at that time. However, being a diligent (read: Type-A) parent—and not feeling super-hot myself after a lot of August travel—I started looking online Sunday morning for how to get tested quickly. The search results weren’t exactly reassuring: appointments for either a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or antigen test within a 10-mile radius of home were extremely limited. So I next started Googling for an at-home “rapid” test; luckily, I found some in stock at a nearby CVS and rushed out to grab them. Since there were only a handful on the mostly bare shelves, I grabbed a couple two-packs, paid almost $60, and went home to run the tests.

The good news is that both my daughter and I tested negative and have remained asymptomatic. She went to school all last week, and life at the homestead has been pretty normal. Crisis averted.

The bad news, however, is just how difficult this all was at this stage of the pandemic—more than 18 months after it began in earnest here. And it says a lot about not only our still-weak testing regime but also the systemic regulatory problems that all but ensure it.

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