Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Rapid Testing - An Amenity Reserved For Lives That Matter

NYTimes |  Hosts are hiring doctors to screen guests before they attend their gatherings, or children coming in from out of town for sleepovers. Other people are getting tests to provide peace of mind after a particularly wild night. Event companies are offering rapid testing as a service to clients alongside catering and music. Instagram influencers are even touting the service.

Still, these rapid tests aren’t totally reliable, said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York City’s deputy commissioner of disease control. “Negatives are not definitive,” he said. (And there certainly have been false positives.)

“No test is 100 percent,” Dr. Rashid said. “A negative test does not preclude one to not be carrying the virus.”

Indeed, one reason rapid tests aren’t in widespread use is that they require additional testing to confirm. “We have to retest all of our negatives, so you’re doing two tests for everyone who is negative,” said Dr. Daskalakis. “It’s a resource issue.”

He also warned that the virus can take some time to show up in a test result; though some test positive 48 hours after exposure, the two-week possible incubation period that has dictated quarantine is generally accepted. So if you were exposed to the virus even 10 days before your test, the outcome is still uncertain. “You can’t go to a house party the week before you see Grandma,” Dr. Daskalakis said. “That test doesn’t matter.”

Ryan Choura, the founder of Choura, an event and experience production company in Torrance, Calif., that arranges the tenting and furniture for the U.S. Open golf tournament and the BeachLife Festival, believes so strongly that all events should incorporate rapid testing that he created an arm of his company to do it.

 But as any public-health expert will tell you, individual test results are not an all-access pass to Life as It Was Before. “There is a false confidence you get when you use a test for social decisions,” Dr. Daskalakis said. “This is one of those things I lose sleep over.”

Nonetheless. receiving rapid testing for the virus has become a mark of status and, ergo, a trending topic on social media.

Tasha Todd, 40, is a medical assistant in Dallas. When her former office, a concierge medical group, first received the rapid testing kit, she posted about it on Instagram, where she has nearly 28,000 followers, to hype up the service. “I wanted to try to bring more business into the company,” Ms. Todd said. “Not that we could have handled much more volume. We were seeing 30 people a day, 25 of which were in for Covid testing.”

“I got a lot of feedback,” she said. “A lot of people were messaging about the prices, where the office was, what the difference was between that and a regular test, and how quickly the results come in.” 

Her office charges $150 for a test, but she knows of other clinics in Dallas that charge $500 or more.
Ms. Todd said she felt frustrated that many of her followers wouldn’t be able to afford one. “I would say rapid testing right now is for the rich. It’s too expensive,” she said. “Who has 150 to 500 dollars just lying around in the middle of the recession?”