Vanessa Dueck: Those Precious COVID Test Kits

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 (Vanessa Dueck)

The demand for at-home COVID tests far outstrips the supply and that has posed tough choices for families like Vanessa Dueck’s.

The hottest topic right now on my townhome community chat group has been the availability of free at-home rapid COVID tests. Everyone seems to be needing them these days with the surge of the omicron variant. After my children’s school district decided to hop onto online learning for a week this January, extra precautions have been in place since the return to in-person learning. A friend in the school community told me that her daughter needed to take three rapid tests three days in a row because of a slightly runny nose.

This week, two people in my family were begging to take a rapid test. My husband, who planned to go back to the office for the first time since the shut down, and my daughter, whose best friend has said she couldn’t play with her until her parents see a negative COVID test result after a recent trip our family made. There were no rapid tests to be found at stores near us and we weren’t in a position to wait for PCR test results.

My husband and I remembered that back in December, we bought a test kit that had an extra test that remained unused. So, who would get the one coveted test; my daughter, who was dying to see her best friend, or my husband, who was dying to get back into the office? We decided on my daughter, as it had been a month since she’s been with the friend most important to her in the world.

We all hovered around the vile of test liquid as I unscrewed the lid. As soon as I untwisted it, it dropped out of my hand, spilling onto the floor. My daughter wept. My husband yelled at me. I nearly laughed ... or cried. I don't even know what emotions are at this point in the pandemic.

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I have since applied to receive my four free test kits that will arrive at the end of this month. The new service will alleviate these "Sophie’s Choice" moments in our home. Of course, next time, I'll let someone more careful open the test.

With a Perspective, I'm Vanessa Dueck.

Vanessa Dueck is a writer and aspiring elite runner in the South Bay.