Social issues can only be remedied by a collective acceptance of those opinions we view as opposing our own.
While I was out taking my son on his daily walk, we came across a free COVID-19 testing site. Now, this isn't uncommon to see during these strange times where actions are being taken to flatten the curve, but it was strange to see our small, busy park taken over for such purposes. Even stranger is why they would take over a child's park that is directly adjacent to an in-session elementary school when there are empty parking lots outside of vacant office buildings all over every single city; there is even a giant warehouse that has been empty for months within a mile of this park that would've suited this testing better.
Alas, I've been left to explore this topic after observing the COVID-19 testing process, and I am utterly appalled by what I witnessed.
Why a Public Children's Park?
During a time where you cannot drive down the road without seeing a shut-down office building and barren parking lots, this was probably the most confusing aspect of witnessing a public COVID-19 testing area. This testing area was stationed right on top of the public restrooms, preventing them from being safely accessible, at a highly-used children's park. Even more confusing was stationing this testing area right next to a dense residential area, and an in-session elementary school.
There is no responsible and well-thought-out reason for a free COVID-19 testing area to be placed in such a densely-populated and active area when we consider how many abandoned office complexes have their parking lots available for use in convenient areas. It is almost as if they wanted infected individuals and non-infected individuals to gather and interact mostly-unabated, and to heighten the curve rather than flatten it. With such a poor location choice what else am I supposed to think?
Knowing the area quite well, I know there are abandoned parking lots located in every direction within walking distance that are more than triple the size of the park's measly 20-space capacity. These same areas are nowhere near any other businesses, and are located a safe distance away from any school or residential zone. I could find zero logical reasons to host this testing area at such a vulnerable location, other than it was centered in the wealthier area of the city.
Which leads me into my next big concern: Why would you want to put the higher-economic-class individuals at risk with poor management of a testing site?
Extremely Poor Management
Compounding my concerns for increased infections due to the testing location would have to be the way said testing location was managed. For over an hour I watched as crowds of individuals came, broke all the rules for safe interaction during this pandemic despite supervision, and how those in charge broke the rules themselves. When those running the testing sites can't even live up to basic standards handed out by public health officials, how am I supposed to think the coronavirus is anything more than a social issue?
You see, for over an hour I observed the testers and their handlers as they swabbed people's noses. The process should've looked a little something like this:
- Ask individual to disinfect themselves prior to entering the testing area via offering sprays and hand sanitizer
- Seat the individual and request that they lower their mask no lower than their upper lip
- Proceed to swab individual
- Require individual to sanitize while seated before replacing mask
- Allow individual to proceed to sanitization in the public restroom and then departure
- Sanitize seat, table, sample area, and finally replace all equipment used during testing so no cross-contamination occurs with next patient
- Repeat the process
However—for every single patient—this is not how the process went, and I would be confident in saying that this process greatly increased the risk of infection for every single individual involved due to egregious oversights of basic sanitization processes.
What the Testing Process Actually Looked Like
Almost every single individual I watched get tested over the period of about an hour-and-a-half went through this exact same process, and I'd say that everyone at this site was willfully put at risk by those in charge. Here is what the process of testing actually looked like:
- Arrive to an overloaded parking lot forcing you to park in busy streets and walk to the testing site
- Stand in a line where social distancing was not being enforced and groups of six or more unrelated individuals would stand together against distancing guidelines
- Try not to be made uncomfortable by the myriad of unmasked children running around the testing area
- Get to the front of the line after thirty minutes or more of exposure to possibly-infected individuals sneezing and coughing everywhere around unmasked individuals
- Go through a process of signing papers while breaking social distancing to do so
- Get in a line for testing that inhibited the public from using the public restrooms safely
- Sit in the contaminated seat at a table they did not sanitize
- Lower your mask fully and get your nose swabbed by an individual who touched a smock that was not changed after the last patient
- Sneeze and cough all over the smock of the individual swabbing your nose, along with the table and chair at which you are seated
- Proceed to the public restroom upon release by the handlers to sanitize
Upon completion of your testing the handlers then went to the communal sanitizing area where they would use a spray bottle that every other individual touched, spray their hands upon removing and disposing of their gloves, and then reach back into a glove box, and a mask box that every other person in the area was also reaching into regardless of whether or not they had been properly sanitized. Did they sanitize their smocks, the tables, the chairs, their face shields, the glove and mask boxes, or their pens and clipboards after every patient? No, they simply went through a bare-minimum process that—by all appearances and everything the news has led me to believe—has now put everyone there at high-risk of exposure to this deadly virus.
Thus, I have come to the conclusion that this coronavirus is not the current enemy of the human race, but our own social pathogens are the true evil this virus brought to light.
In Conclusion: This Virus Is Less Dangerous Than the Social Pathogens It Has Exposed
With all the disregard I witnessed from medical professionals and medical volunteers alike, those who should be the example for perfect procedure in the face of a deadly pandemic tearing people apart at the seams, I can only bring myself to focus on how hateful toward one another everyone has been throughout this process. Yes, you heard me right, I feel like the methods of control for this virus were more a way to tear the human race apart at the social level rather than a way to contain a virus. Essentially, the real threat during the pandemic was not the virus at all, but the social pathogen of hatred for our fellow man that only took deeper root into our social infrastructure.
Calling for individuals who refuse to wear a mask to be rounded up and executed, referring to those who wear a mask as sheeple or brainwashed for being scared of a deadly virus, shaming individuals to the point of ruining their lives for the sake of cancel culture because they believed someone in leadership you did not like.... These are all examples of what I believe to be the true goal of the obviously-poor-handling of this pandemic.
Had there been a real threat to the world, a threat that required more than all this vitriol and public debate, we are in an age where the government could have rightfully shut down the country for everyone's safety. The world could have stood arm in arm, and on a smaller scale my country could have supported its own health, but instead we all argued for political and social brownie points. This social pathogen has torn the unity of the human race even further asunder, and this has been to the benefit of big-name business moguls the world over.
A social pathogen that rends a human from their personal attachments, makes them isolated and malleable, and inevitably has them pining for even a taste of happiness in the dark times that we brought upon ourselves willfully; there doesn't seem like a better method of control to me. Truly, this coronavirus nailed the checklist for establishing an abusive and controlling relationship between the consumer and the corporations that regularly seek to dictate their lifestyles anyways.
Then again, this is all speculation on the increasing severity of social pathogens that was triggered by the egregious mishandling of testing for COVID-19.
What silly times we live in, eh?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on November 27, 2020:
A late happy Thanksgiving to you as well, and I hope you had a good one, John! It really was a confusing sight to witness as it concerns the disparity between expectations and how the test site was actually handled. Hopefully this one was simply mishandled, and the others are much better managed.
Thanks for reading!
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 26, 2020:
Yes, Kyler, I agree with your concerns here and you were quite right to point out the hypocritically nature of putting this testing centre in the middle of a park when there were vacant parking lots etc close by. The lack of care and hygiene also would have been great concern. Well done. Happy Thanksgiving.
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on November 26, 2020:
@Bill: Good to see you in the comments, Bill, and a good one to you as well!
@Meg: I'd tend to agree that they really hammer those sensationalist words home to amp up the fear factor of this virus whenever they get the chance, but never seem to touch on any stories that dull the fear-fueling narrative. Although, I'm happy your neighbor beat the, "high risk," label and is home safe and well! Hopefully we can all pull together to solve this SARS-CoV-2 problem once and for all.
@Holley: Long time, no see, Holley! I've witnessed those testing sites as well, the ones where you stay in your car, and I sat and watched those ones operate. They still fail to change/sanitize their smocks/face shields, pens, clipboards, etc. Although I do favor seeing those because they typically take place at big abandoned event centers away from any heavy foot-traffic. The best to you and your fiance, or is it husband now, stay safe!
Holley Hyler from Upstate New York on November 25, 2020:
It's interesting to hear how the test sites are run in other states. Here in NY, I only know of drive-thru sites - nobody gets out of the car, and everyone is in masks most of the time. I don't like how our governor handles things sometimes (especially when he is rude or self-inflating), but after reading your article, it really puts things into perspective for me. Thank you, Kyler. I hope you can find another park that is safer. All the best to you and your family.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on November 25, 2020:
Yes, indeed, they are using propaganda like "war" " frontline" and "killer" virus to frighten people. They are also using the police to bully protesters, most of whom have up until now been law abiding citizens but who cannot agree to the government getting away with a reaction that is totally out of proportion to the risk! News papers have headlines like "10 year old dies of covid" but it's only when you read the article that you find out that this same child had underlying health conditions of a serious nature. I don't see the headlines like "my 80 year old, overweight neighbour who is immobile and hasn't been out in months came through covid". This happened. I know the person concerned. She is now back home. 99.8% of people survive coronavirus. Why is the world shut down? Oxfam thinks 128million people worldwide will starve because supply chains have been disrupted.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 25, 2020:
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
Ann Carr from SW England on November 25, 2020:
Thanks, I'll try to. Yes, others take the choice out for us, it seems. I wouldn't attend a protest or the like but then I'm in a vulnerable age group. You are young! Hopefully, you will continue to avoid becoming ill.
It's hard not socialising isn't it? I miss the children and grandchildren but then I'm geographically close enough to be able to see them easily later on. Technically, I'm allowed to go in the guise of 'informal child care'! However, not needed at present so I'll play it safe. I have an older one at home and I want him to be safe too (person, not child, though sometimes I wonder - don't tell him!).
Happy Thanksgiving, Kyler!
Kyler J Falk (author) from California on November 25, 2020:
Well and safe seem to be based on whichever anecdotal guidelines you follow these days, but by my perceptions I am well and unsafe, LOL! Due to the many protests and riots I have been called to involve myself in things that should, by all guidelines, have me infected and ill. Traveling in confined spaces with other individuals, breaking social distancing by no choice of my own, gathering in massive crowds, and all sorts of other frowned-upon actions are all part of the agenda at some points and still I have not fallen ill.
My writing routine is unhealthy, that's for certain, as anyone can tell by my severely reduced output; but otherwise I've been super well. The family is doing well despite some issues with neighbors and the new landlord, and income is increasing swiftly as time goes by on all fronts. Sorry to hear your daughters had to go four hours out of the way for testing, that sounds like a difficult expectation to adhere to.
We'll be attending a Thanksgiving get-together with over twenty people in attendance, but I don't think we'll stay long because we aren't the ones cooking the meal. I've never met anyone who can live up to the cooking of my girlfriend, and she has ruined me with amazing food at every meal. Either way, not sure whether to feel unsafe and not go, or to disregard the safety guidelines due to my experiences in the field and witnessing even the testers break guidelines without worry of infection.
Super crazy and weird times! You keep safe and well, also!
Ann Carr from SW England on November 25, 2020:
An interesting viewpoint which I can understand to a point. Our government has dealt with it well in some ways but the practical steps have not worked out well, nor the organisation of how it should pan out. Test and trace hasn't worked as it should have, many have been sent far away to have a test (my daughter and granddaughter had a 4 hour round trip - they could've broken down or had all sorts of problems!). The logistics have not been good.
Now we're told that we should all be careful but we can do all sorts of things for 5 days over Christmas - I wish they would practice what they preach. I'm not going anywhere and some people are going everywhere whilst ignoring social-distancing and respect. I've given up trying to understand it.
I hope you are keeping safe and well, Kyler.