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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Everyone should take advantage of new testing opportunities

With COVID-19 testing more widely available, it is important to continue to keep ourselves and those around us safe

Since cases during this past month of the omicron surge have accounted for more than a quarter of the total U.S. COVID-19 cases, the need for testing has never been greater. What was once looked at as something in the rearview mirror, the most recent wave of the pandemic has brought back the stress that everyone had hoped would go away. To stay safe, people have sought out testing, but the problem with that has been that many have had issues with finding a testing site with available appointments.

We are fortunate that at UC Davis, COVID-19 testing is available to everyone, and the sites are equipped to test thousands. The university has rightfully been nationally praised for their testing facilities and it continues to keep those in the community safe. But, that is not the case in many areas of the state or even the country, as some members of the Editorial Board learned while traveling home over break. 

Due to the recent holiday season and the current omicron wave, a lot of testing sites have been fully booked for days, or even weeks in some cases, causing many cities to begin to expand testing — but it has been more reactive than proactive. Some have opted for at-home testing kits sold at local pharmacies, but the majority of pharmacies have been sold out due to the higher demand. That has left many people not knowing whether they have COVID-19 and leaving the people around them at risk or paying an exorbitant amount for a testing kit.

As a result of the testing shortage, the Biden administration rolled out a plan to deliver free at-home testing to households. Each household can order up to four tests on their website and will be delivered by the United States Postal Service. For those without internet access, the administration is launching a call line where a household can order their tests.

Still, this leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The delayed response to the testing limitations comes at a time when a quicker solution was needed. Some have already encountered problems with this setup, as some people who live in apartment buildings were unable to order their tests if a resident from a different unit had already ordered or if they have their residence listed as a “business address.” 

Another concern with this new system is how an unhoused person can order tests. It remains unknown what one in this situation can do as the only thing the administration has said is they will have “national and local community-based organizations to support the nation’s hardest-hit and highest-risk communities in requesting tests.” 

These questions don’t have answers just yet, but it is important that if you can order these tests, you do so. There are places where getting tested isn’t readily available or the lines are very long, so we are hopeful that this resource continues to improve to help decrease the uptick in cases. Getting tested regularly is key during this surge to keep you and those around you safe, but the system must improve and become more available especially for those with no healthcare who may find it more difficult to get tested. 

This coupled with the distribution of free N95 masks is something that was overdue but also important as we face the omicron variant. The masks will be distributed soon at local pharmacies and other locations. As omicron continues to spread, everyone should take advantage of these new resources and test regularly. The Editorial Board also encourages students in the Davis area to inform others who don’t have readily-available testing about these free resources. We understand that it is rather difficult and frustrating that we are back at this point, but we must continue to keep ourselves and those around us safe. 

Written by: The Editorial Board

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