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Ginnie Graham: Testing positive for COVID made me angry and grateful

Ginnie Graham: Testing positive for COVID made me angry and grateful

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Cars line up Tuesday for drive-through COVID-19 testing in the Broken Arrow neighborhood adjacent to Saint Francis Health Park, near 101st Street and Elm Place. COVID-19 testing is available in the southwest parking lot of the Warren Clinic Urgent Care there. No appointment is needed. Testing is available seven days a week during Urgent Care hours, according to the facility’s website.

This week's topics: Frustration with local COVID testing, the insurrection one year later, gun violence and celebrating the lives of two Hollywood icons

My kids and I became among the 9,230 Oklahomans on Saturday testing positive for COVID-19, and it’s left me mad.

The day after getting our test results, there were 9,608 Oklahomans who tested positive and another 8,130 residents on Monday. The previous record was 6,487 new cases on Jan. 10, 2021. This isn’t progress.

What’s got me angry is how little we’ve learned. Two years to build an infrastructure for testing, and two years for the U.S. to rally as a team in battling a virus that has killed more than 840,000 Americans in two years.

Two years of working from home, two years of wearing a mask in public, two years of limiting unnecessary exposure, and one year of missing family holidays. We’ve had one year to get everyone eligible vaccinated.

There’s plenty of blame to go around on this latest highly contagious variant that is closing schools and workplaces. But I also have a gratitude list.

First on that list is vaccines; those are saving lives. My family is vaccinated with adults boosted, and our symptoms are mild. Initially, I thought this was a sinus infection from allergies. When my daughter developed a deep cough, that was the tipoff all was not normal.

That’s where our illness stopped.

No fever, no headaches, no muscle soreness, no fatigue and retention of smell and taste. My son was completely asymptomatic, and my husband freakishly tested negative.

That’s from vaccines and boosters. This tracks with a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showing of 1.2 million adults fully vaccinated but still infected, only 189 developed severe complications (0.015%) and 36 died (0.0033%).

Next up for a thank-you are health care workers, from those doing the testing to those providing treatment.

We couldn’t find at-home tests or pharmacy or facility with testing appointments within a week. I wasn’t going to pay a private lab $100 to $175 for a test, especially because my family needed four.

So, on a recommendation and heads-up about the long line, we went to a Saint Francis Urgent Care drive up and waited two hours for tests. With plenty of ebooks, podcasts and patience, it went smoothly.

We were there after sundown when the temperatures dipped below freezing. Workers wrapped in parka-like coats, medical masks and ear coverings were directing traffic, taking information, answering questions and performing the tests.

When I thanked a staffer for working late, she looked surprised and genuinely grateful for the acknowledgement. That’s sad. They should be hearing a thank-you from every person in that line.

Next on my appreciation list are teachers. It was my daughter’s pom coach who suggested a test when hearing that cough, recognizing how the virus was tearing through schools. Many have reached out to check on lessons and her health.

We are 99.8% sure this came from the kids’ school. So many educators and staff are getting sick from this, yet they are still looking out for students.

Public health experts warned that the omicron variant was much more contagious and would be devastating in schools without mask mandates. Looks like they were right.

Now for the blame.

There is no infrastructure for timely, affordable testing. That should have been been in place by now, aided by the government from the pandemic’s outset.

Vaccines and masking have become so politicized that lost are people who are getting sick and dying. Lost are that some groups are more at-risk than others. Lost is our collective obligation to care for each other.

Pediatric hospitalizations represent the lowest rate of COVID hospitalizations of any group, but are at the highest rate compared to any prior point in the pandemic. Those under 5 cannot get a vaccine, putting them more at risk.

Yet, there are people fighting masks and vaccines in programs with infant to 5-year-olds, such as in HeadStart. It makes no sense to cheer on practices that create real harm to people; to not do everything possible to help those unable to protect themselves.

In the end, the hardest part about getting a positive COVID test is psychological. For two years, we’ve been told about the deadly nature of the virus. I know people, including a family member, who died from the virus.

With every cough, sneeze and wheeze, I worried about how bad it could get. That’s anxiety inducing.

Then, I remembered that gratitude list and found comfort in the facts and statistics about the efficacy of vaccines. I feel fortunate recovering from home, needing only hot tea and some over-the-counter help.

But, there is an overworked front line, and we need to do better by them.


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