Holiday on Omicron Ice
The new variant is coming soon to theaters (and restaurants and hair salons) near you
Insofar as one family’s experience with Omicron can stand in as an example for all, allow mine to be your instructive cautionary holiday tale with regard to the many ways in which your family, town, and healthcare system might be unprepared for this current Covid tsunami as Christmas and New Year’s loom. For starters, all three of my double vaxxed children—a son, 26; a daughter, 24; and a son, 15—have come down with Covid, none of them previously lived under the same roof, and the youngest already had Covid back in March 2020, so he’s a twofer. I might be a twofer as well, since all three of my kids are now quarantining in my apartment, but who knows? We’ve run out of rapid at-home tests, none are available in stores or online, and there’s currently a three hour wait for PCR tests in our Brooklyn neighborhood, and that is if the lab doesn’t shut down before you get to the front of the line, as it did for my ex-husband. The five of us in our Covid quarantine are all just acting as if my daughter’s boyfriend, who’s also staying with us, and I are both infected, though neither of us, both boosted, are feeling sick. (Thanks, science.)
Were this week one or two of the pandemic, this situation would be understandable. But we are now two years into this plague, and the U.S. still doesn’t get it. Our national healthcare system is neither healthy nor cares because we don’t have one. Meanwhile, my friends in Paris, who are a couple of weeks ahead of us on this Omicron wave, can get tested for free at any local pharmacy, without delay, or they can buy rapid tests by the dozen at minimal cost (5 euros a test, according to my friend Monique, who lives in the tenth.) My friends in the U.K. get their tests for free or, if they’re housebound, the NHS will send them a bunch of rapid tests in the mail, gratis. Meanwhile, this (below) is what happened when my ex-husband tried to get tested.
I’ve spent upwards of $30 for one LFT (lateral flow test, aka a rapid at home test), and so far I’ve spent over $500 to keep an arsenal of rapid tests on hand in my home. Do I have the budget for this? No, I do not. In fact, with groceries nearly double what they were at the beginning of the pandemic, how many of us in the U.S., under these circumstances, can afford to find out if we have Covid? If your name doesn’t end in Musk, Gates, or Bezos, not many.
And okay, yes, our government has finally promised that private insurance––the kind you get at your full time job, which many Americans, including me, no longer have––must reimburse for the cost of these at-home tests, but it’s not retroactive. It only starts on January 15, and by then we’ll already all have Omicron.
My family has been as diligent as possible about staying safe. We don’t eat indoors. We mask up inside. We avoid crowds as best we can, but yes, we’ve all been trying to live our lives as well of late. Here’s a quick snapshot what happened in the days leading up to our quarantine.
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