Friday, December 8

Do you have out-of-town guests arriving?

Or are you planning to have dinner with friends or relatives who have flown in from somewhere?

Buy a couple boxes of BinaxNOW rapid Covid-19 tests now before your guests drive up or arrive at the airport.  Each box costs about $25 and contains two test kits.

Test yourself and ask your guests to do so also.

Finding the BinaxNOW could be easier said than done.  The shelves could be empty.  But keep trying.  Walgreens and CVS are your best bet. 

“All the Walgreens around here are sold out,” a clerk told me at the intersection of Lincoln and Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica.

“When will you get a delivery?” I asked.

“Maybe today or tomorrow, I don’t know.  Could be anytime,” she replied.

I drove 15 minutes to the next closest Walgreens, and voila!  They had many boxes, all behind the photo shop counter, and twenty people were clustered around as a clerk patiently handed out two per person.

We stood in line to buy them and emerged triumphant.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly!

I called my niece and her mother, who had arrived the night before from New York City, and offered to deliver a box of BinaxNOW to their hotel.  

They didn’t mind testing before our big dinner date in the evening with other family members.  It takes just 15 minutes to get a result.

When I drove up to Casa del Mar Hotel on Ocean Way, they were both outside waiting for me so that I could just hand them the box and not need to go inside the hotel or into their room. 

We chatted for a few minutes on the sidewalk, all three of us wearing masks.  I stood about six feet from them as I explained how I had caught Covid on Nov. 4 from an out-of-town visitor (see previous blog post). 

My niece said she came down with Covid last March after a ski trip to Colorado.  She had two vaccines and a recent booster too.

How vaccine effectiveness drops after 5-6 months

“I’ve had my vaccines and a booster too, but it was last August,” said her mother.

“Well, they say that after five months you need another booster,” I said.  “I was 7 months after my last vaccine and a day after my booster when I caught Covid.  But the vaccines protected me from having a serious case.”

Then we bumped elbows and said, “See you tonight.”  They had plans to visit LACMA this afternoon with another family member.

On the way home, I passed that first Walgreens and decided to stop in.  Maybe they’d had a delivery.

There was a FedEx truck parked outside the store as I drove up.  The delivery man was building a stack of 21 boxes on one dolly cart.  As I watched, half of them fell to the ground.

“Probably the rapid tests, special delivery!” I said to myself.

Right.  Inside I found cartons of BinaxNOW stacked all around the UPS counter with several people walking up to get two boxes.

“Wait!  Just give me a chance to open the cartons,” said a clerk.  

I bought two more boxes–deck the halls! Fa-la-la-la-la…

When I telegraphed the news–I have 3 boxes!–I immediately got requests for them.  

One was reserved for my husband, who tested negative this afternoon, as I had done the night before with the last test kit in the house.  We had gone to the Pantages Theater the previous weekend to see Hamilton and could have been exposed then.  We wanted to check before going out to dinner with family.

I drove another box to my daughter and took the third to a friend of hers who suspected that she and her husband had come down with Covid-19.  They each had a fever, aching, and tiredness–but so far hadn’t lost their sense of taste or smell.  (I didn’t experience that loss when I had Covid a month ago.)

As I was driving to Culver City to deliver these rapid tests, I got a call from my niece.  She had tested positive–though she had absolutely no symptoms.  She felt fine, just as she had when making plans to travel and when they had left New York. 

Her mother tested negative, but clearly she had been exposed to the virus by her non-symptomatic daughter. 

They immediately cancelled their plans to spend a week in Palm Springs after visiting Los Angeles.  Next they separated into two hotel rooms and began looking into how soon they could fly home.  Is it better to wait until they both test negative?  Or fly home before either of them might become symptomatic?

My niece planned to stay in her hotel room until flying home. Silent night, Covid night… 

Her mother said dinner plans were cancelled, but negotiations ensued with my husband and his sister, who were still willing to go to the restaurant.  After all, family members had flown across the country for this visit.

I stayed home.  Last Sunday my daughter had visited her friends (now sick and probably with Covid), so she didn’t go to the dinner.  People who have been exposed shouldn’t go out and endanger others.

My other daughter, who works at Starbucks, didn’t go either.  She’s scheduled to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas; if she gets exposed, she can’t go to work.  It wouldn’t be right to ask someone else to do those holiday shifts.

Much drama, and we didn’t even get to the subjects of religion or politics.

Anyway, be a good Girl Scout or Boy Scout, and be prepared.

Buy a couple boxes of rapid tests now.  If you test positive, then you get to stand in line 3-4 hours for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, as my daughter’s friend did today.  

After someone in a lab uses a microscope to look at the genetic material in the droplets from her nose, and someone else sends her an email, she will get the results–tomorrow, if the system works well.

If you get a positive result, you get to start work on quarantining, finding a monoclonal antibody that works on the Omicron variant, contacting people you may have exposed, and interviewing with your local health department in their effort to trace contacts and stop the spread. (The GlaxoSmithKline monoclonal infusion is currently the only one that works on Omicron.)

See details of how complicated all that can be–even if you have a mild case–by checking my posts on November 13 and November 15.

If you’ve had your vaccines and booster, you will probably not have a serious case of Covid-19 because you still have maybe 20-30% of your antibodies, which will help your body to fight the virus.  If you have an auto-immune illness or are a cancer survivor, you could need hospitalization.

The most important thing we can all do in the next two months is keep ourselves out of the hospital and not expose anyone else.  Our health care workers are already exhausted and stressed out.  We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Taking vaccines and wearing masks are acts of kindness to those who are fragile.

Doing all we can do is a simple courtesy to the doctors, nurses, and aides who are caring for those who are sick and dying.

Doing our part also helps the FedEx delivery people, the drug store employees, the nation, and the world.  Just think about this guy trying to load 21 cartons of rapid tests on one little dolly cart so he can rush on to deliver more to the pharmacy across town.  He’s making a list, checking it twice…

Santa and his sleigh in Covid times

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