PUBLIC HEALTH officials in Adams County have a powerful new tool to help halt the fast-advancing spread of the coronavirus.
On Monday, the county set up a rapid-testing site in the parking lot of the former Shopko building on Broadway in Quincy. The tests take about 40 seconds to perform and involve a few swirls with a swab inside each nostril, about an inch inside the nose. It’s quick, accurate and, officials say, 97% accurate. Results are delivered with a phone call in about two hours.
Adding to the efforts over the next two weeks will be testing at other sites in Adams and Brown counties, along with employer-sponsored testing at job sites. Best of all, the testing is free, and no insurance card needs to be presented.
The hope is that by testing as many people as possible — the county hopes to test as many as 30,000 people over the next two weeks — a better, more-accurate depiction of the virus’ spread will be presented. This is crucial because it will allow mitigation efforts to begin much more quickly, particularly in cases where asymptomatic individuals might unknowingly be spreading the virus.
But this will only work if people get tested.
Quite frankly, given the continued reluctance of so many people to simply wear masks or observe any of the other basic protocols designed to keep people healthy, we are dubious the county will be able to test the 30,000 people sought. On the first day of testing, just over 1,200 people were tested. To get to 30,000 in two weeks, that daily number will need to double.
We have heard expressions of helplessness several times recently from people who feel they can’t do anything to stop the pandemic. While it’s easy to understand that thought, we have to remind everyone there are, in fact, some very simple things all of us can do:
- Wear a mask.
- Maintain 6 feet of social distance.
- Wash your hands.
- Avoid any indoor gatherings beyond your immediate family.
- Leave home as little as possible.
- And now, get tested.
It truly boggles the mind that so many people still are so reluctant to follow this guidance.
Nearly 40 of our friends and neighbors have died from COVID-19. More undoubtedly still will, even though there is hope for a vaccine to be widely available by mid-2021. As of this writing, 76 people are hospitalized at Blessing; some of them likely won’t leave alive. The hospital is now working to convert its ambulance bay to house patients.
We hope our doubt is misplaced. After all, the region’s sense of community is one of our best qualities. Helping those around us has been at the heart of what we do since Adams County’s founding. Yes, we may have the right to do whatever we want and disregard what we feel are overreaching dictums. But don’t we also have the responsibility to do what is necessary to save lives?
For the love of your family, friends, neighbors and community, we beg you: Please get tested and continue to wear a mask until it is once again safe for us all.