Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Jefferson City, Missouri: COVID-19 Unfolding, Part 8888: The Seduction of Denial



I am a mistress of denial. I have skills in denial. I excel at denial.

So my comments below - about what appears to me as denial - is not about being judgy or belittling - and in no way - not even a microscopic bit - disdain. It is simply about who we often are as humans. 

The Seduction, Chapter 1

Both my hostess and I took trips over a long weekend. I went to Livingston, Texas. My hostess went to Kansas City. 

One of us came back with COVID. 

My hostess knew that her sore throat and general not-up-to-par-ness pointed to a common cold. She knew it.   

Nevertheless, I pulled out one of my government-used vanilla and orange sherbet test packets so she could take a test. 

Free rapid COVID tests from US government. March 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Free rapid COVID tests from US government. March 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.


So she did. And here's the power of denial. The C line was, of course, clearly evident. That's the control line. The T line (for test result) was faint. 

Because it was faint, much fainter than the control line under the C, my hostess felt that the test was likely negative. Because it couldn't be positive. Because she knew she just had a Before Times cold. 

Unfortunately, if you can see the T line, no matter how faint, that's a positive result. But don't take my word for it: 

"After 15 minutes, you’ll look for two things:

A line under the “C,” which is the control. 'It’s imperative that you get a line under the “C.” It lets you know that the test is working. If there’s no line under “C,” you’ll need to re-test,' Alvarado explained.

"If the area under the “T,” or test section, has no line at all, that means it’s negative for COVID-19. If there’s a line under the “T,” then the test is positive for COVID. 'It doesn’t matter how faint or how bright the line under the “T” is, if it’s there, it’s a positive test for COVID,' Alvarado said. [Underline added by me.]


Faint line on COVID test card - positive. Credit: SF Gate via Getty Images
Faint line on COVID test card - positive. Credit: SF Gate via Getty Images

My hostess' response: "Well, shit. .... Shit." This from a person who rarely swears.  


A sidebar on the CDC

You may wonder - and you should wonder - why I don't have a link to the CDC's guide on the at-home rapid test results info. I wanted to. And I looked for the information. But the information is for shit. 

The accompanying text for this video, for example, says it tells you how to interpret the result, but it does not. It slides right over to: "If you have a positive result ..." 

And this video, which the CDC linked to for my orange sherbet and vanilla test, which purported to have usage information by the manufacturer, was .... I don't know what the hell it was. But it didn't tell me how to interpret any results. Hell, it didn't even tell me how to conduct the test. 

Another test that the CDC links to, for a different manufacturer, was a link to an error page. 

Finally, in the third link, to the Abbot BiNox Now test kit link, I found actual instructions. Including this: "Even a FAINT line next to SAMPLE is a positive result." The video even included a magnifying glass image to reinforce the need to look closely at the test result.

I used to have great confidence in and respect for our country's Center for Disease Control. Both of these evaporated when Trump bullied and politicized both the agency and the pandemic itself. 

I only just today pulled up this 2020 Pro Publica article on same: Inside the Fall of the CDC. I make this point about the timing because I had come to my own conclusion about the CDC's loss of legitimacy as I watched Trump's rhetoric against the CDC and his appointments unfold in 2020. 

A dismal excerpt from the Pro Publica article:

"When the next history of the CDC is written, 2020 will emerge as perhaps the darkest chapter in its 74 years, rivaled only by its involvement in the infamous Tuskegee experiment, in which federal doctors withheld medicine from poor Black men with syphilis, then tracked their descent into blindness, insanity and death."

Note: The article is not just a thrashing of Trump and his subjects - it's about vulnerabilities within the CDC that already existed, and which exacerbated the failure to fulfill its mission to protect the public health of the United States. 

Another astounding excerpt from the Pro Publica report: 

"At a time when the pandemic had killed nearly 130,000 Americans, McGowan spent an hour and a half on the phone with the HHS general counsel and other senior officials to figure out how to make an exception for a dog. All the while, he told colleagues, his mind kept returning to the fact that the same administration was using the CDC’s quarantine power to deport thousands of children at the border with Mexico."


 The Seduction, Chapter 2

A few days ago, a New Mexico friend fell sick. When I say he "fell sick," I mean that he felt sick. Felt rather miserable, in fact. 

He, too, took an at-home rapid test. He told me the result was questionable. I asked why he called it questionable. He said "because the test result line is so faint." 

He'd scheduled a PCR for the following Monday. 

I explained, well, there's nothing questionable about your test result. Doesn't matter how faint the result line is: You're positive. 

I explained this wasn't just my opinion - it's in the test packet instructions. 

Just as it was for my hostess, who had to reorganize a number of commitments after her diagnosis, this was a real bummer for my New Mexico friend (in addition to having COVID, that is) because he'd been set to serve as an election worker on Tuesday, the 8th. 

On Monday, he took the PCR. Positivity confirmed.  

The Seduction, Chapter 3

Now to me. 

I was squarely negative when I took the at-home rapid test two days after my hostess' return from her long weekend trip and her positive test result. (It didn't seem to make any sense for me to take it before I'd even been exposed for any length of time, hence the two-day delay.)

In the meantime, I was hyper-vigilant about distancing, sanitizing, masking, and staying in different parts of her house. 

I re-took the test on the evening of the 9th day after her return from Kansas City. 

I had a thought process for waiting for the nine days (and I'm actually drafting this before I've taken the test), which was that: 

  • If I've been infected, it will surely show up in the test result after so many days of exposure; and
  • If I've not been infected after so many days of exposure, I am probably OK. Because in theory (my theory), each day that passed she was closer to end-of-quarantine time.

Magical thinking? Denial? Could be! I'm gifted at that! 


The result:


Oh, and my hostess took her test again this evening also - negative. Huzzahs all around. 

Nevertheless, I'll take another test in two days just to ensure there haven't been any viruses sneaking about incognito in more recent days.


Negative COVID test result. November 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.
Negative COVID test result. November 2022. Credit: Mzuriana.

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