A note from rural America: I had to drive 2 hours to find the nearest covid rapid testing center. I waited in a parking lot in the rain for 4 hours to get the test which I still don’t know if my $320/month health insurance covered. I tested positive.
My parents, who had been exposed to me at a distance, needed to get tested for COVID & the closest testing center to Oark, AR said they might get their results in 7 days. Many of my parents neighbors in Oark are conspiracy theorists & refuse to wear masks.
Meanwhile, I called the health department to find out protocol for after I finished 14 days of quarantine. Should I get tested again to make sure I am negative? The health department said “no” and cited being overwhelmed.
The health department said I should have be assigned a nurse to follow my case. They said this nurse would call to me & send me a official letter stating that I was well enough to return to work. I have never heard from said nurse (also unsure of the use of said letter).
While being sick with COVID, a person who went to elementary school with me in Oark (a Trump supporter) reached out to me on social media to argue that COVID was “just like the flu” apparently thinking that was a kind thing to do.
And to top it all off, some local legislators have filed a lawsuit against the requirement to wear masks in public & to limit capacity at restaurants. They compare such public safety regulations to mind control.
My best friend growing up in Oark is a nurse in Little Rock. I talked to her this week & she explained that as a hospital employee, she has no access to rapid testing. Every time she has been exposed to COVID (several times already) she has to wait 5 days for test results.
And my friend who works at a hospital cannot work for the 5 days she waits for her COVID test results. Not to mention that she must quarantine herself from her kids & husband. Shouldn’t a hospital offer it’s own employees rapid testing? We need all nurses & doctors on deck.
Another issue is people who have been exposed to COVID or have symptoms but refuse to get tested because they believe in one or several conspiracy theories they read on FB. Summary: I’m worried about our level of stubborn unwillingness to believe in science & the collective good.
And while suffering from COVID at home (my parents lent me their oximeter) I had time to think about the fact that the nearest rural hospital is an hour away. A neighbor who got in a chainsaw accident some years ago died on the way to the hospital.

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More from @reporterdriver

20 Nov
In honor of #TransDayOfRemembrance I’m sharing two stories that I reported out over the past three years. The beauty of following Karla & Michelle for so long is that I witnessed the arc of justice @Longreads google.com/amp/s/longread…
I wrote about Michelle, a trans woman from El Salvador who received asylum in the US & who is working & studying as she always dreamed @Longreads google.com/amp/s/longread…
And I produced a radio story for @reveal about trans women who migrate to the US & the story includes deeply moving testimony from an asylum court judge #TransDayOfRemembrance revealnews.org/episodes/trans…
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