It is important for the public to know Covid tests, like many other products facing delays and shortages, have been limited by supply chain shortages. Understanding this helps put in perspective the lack of availability that can arise when demand for tests peaks. It is understandable people are frustrated by resource shortages, but there is something the public can do to help right the ship: be responsible about testing correctly (which includes reporting positive at-home test results to your physician), vaccinating and taking additional safety measure like quarantining when infected with or exposed to Covid-19.
Quite frankly, it felt like trying to fly a fleet of planes while building them. It’s what we do 365 days a year. Our laboratories have always run around the clock, out of public view, processing millions of patient tests, because treatment cannot happen without a diagnosis.
And, just like at the bedside, the pandemic triggered clinical laboratory staffing shortages and burnout. We must keep laboratories running 24/7, even while dealing with a critical shortage of medical technologists and phlebotomists, an issue only heightened by Covid-19 testing demands.
It’s not just about testing
We cannot test ourselves out of this pandemic; we never could. Testing is critical for managing patients, tracking overall progress and identifying new variants, but testing alone will not end the pandemic.
We must also find a way to reach those who are still hesitant about receiving the vaccine and try to change hearts and minds so we can begin to release the pressure on our health care system.
We need to interrupt the stream of deadly misinformation and share the good news about safe and effective FDA-approved vaccines that can prevent death and long-term health problems from the virus. The public, the private sector and the medical community need to be in lockstep on this messaging. This I know for sure.
I also know, to some of you, this may sound like a broken record, old news, something I’m sure you are tired of hearing, but if you are looking for different answers there are none.
Testing the right way
If you are symptomatic and cannot get a PCR laboratory test, but test positive using an at-home test, chances are the test correctly identified the virus. If you are symptomatic and have had an exposure to the coronavirus virus, and then you test negative with an at-home test, you must follow up with a PCR test.
We often hear about the inadequacies when it comes to Covid-19 testing; not enough tests, long turnaround times and even longer lines to get tested. Take it from the physicians who test for a living, we don’t regard failure as an option. We are very much with you in the struggle to adapt, carry on, and do what needs to be done.