Yan Ouyang | When You Don’t Need the Test

Letters to the Editor
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Drive-through COVID-19 tests brings no more comfort than toilet paper.

Having been involved in installing COVID-19 tests in many California public health labs, I have been constantly asked, “When can I get tested?”

“Never!” I respond to anyone who is still physically able to ask this question.

I do not see any major benefits of setting up drive-through test sites except political gain. Anyone who is able to drive to a test site and wait hours without passing out should not be tested in the first place, unless the test becomes accessible like those blood pressure machines in drug stores, which I do not foresee happening this year. Besides, many California public health labs are struggling to get enough regents to ramp up testing anyway. A harsh fact: as of  March 19, L.A. County reached its max testing capacity, 17,000 a day, over 100 times more than the rate a week earlier, meaning it still needs about 594 days (a year and a half) to get everyone in L.A. County tested.

A lesser point, these tests are not cheap, and will eventually come out of our pockets!

“What if I am positive?” If anyone who is seemingly normal/healthy enough to ask this question, there is nothing doctors can do! In other words, you should wait (ideally in isolation) to get better or worse, and in the latter case, a hospital bed becomes the only option. My point is that if you are too sick to ask the questions above, you will be sent to a hospital, COVID-19 positive or not, and at that point, while testing is mandatory, its result is less urgent than action/treatment.

The death rate among European countries indicates a hospital bed is the determining factor in saving lives of COVID-19 patients. Germany has the highest beds per capita and the lowest death rate, 0.3% (44 deaths by March 19) whereas Italy has one of the lowest hospital beds per capita and the highest death rate 12% (3,405 deaths).

My point is, mass testing (drive-through or other sorts) is a waste of public resources and we should save them for medical staff and incoming patients. 

Yan Ouyang

Santa Clarita

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