We missed Christmas. Thanks a lot, COVID-19.
My wife Kathy and I started coughing and had sore throats around the weekend before the holiday. Although I was pretty stable as the week before Christmas progressed, Kathy got worse and had an off-and-on fever. So we figured we better get tested.
We tried to get on a schedule at pharmacies with no luck, and we couldn't find at-home kits anywhere, either. Our only option was the Curative site at Cape Henlopen High School. So we stood in a long line in the cold on Dec. 23. More on that later.
Kathy got worse, so she scheduled an appointment at the Beebe walk-in clinic in Georgetown. She tested positive, which meant I was probably positive as well. We are both vaccinated.
I received my positive result from Curative on Christmas Eve. Bah humbug.
So we hunkered down in isolation, presumably for the next 10 days. It seemed odd because our symptoms resembled those of a cold. We did get tired easily, but it was more of a nuisance than anything else.
During our lockdown, the CDC came out with a new timeline for isolation, cutting our time away from the world to five days.
Talk about terrible timing. Our Christmas visit to the grandkids and Christmas dinner were canceled. Visits with relatives and gift exchanges were all put on hold.
I always look forward to spending time with the grandkids on Christmas. I had taken days off from work so we could make our annual trip to Longwood Gardens and to Schellville. Didn't happen. Thanks, COVID.
At least we were able to get our money back from Longwood. I pleaded the COVID defense, and they didn't hesitate to provide a refund.
Thankfully, we had ordered a Christmas Eve dinner from a local restaurant. We ate those leftovers for the next week.
We became addicted to the TV show “Top Gear” and the new “Grand Tour,” starring the same three presenters. I think we watched every episode ever made that is available on TV.
We finally celebrated Christmas with the grandkids on Dec. 31.
We weren't alone – the week before and after Christmas witnessed an extreme spike in COVID cases, not only in Delaware but across the country. The number of positive cases eclipsed the numbers at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
I made a mistake and answered a call from the state to assess my COVID situation. “This won't take long,” said the anonymous interviewer.
But it did take a long time. She wanted me to retrace my steps over the past 7 to 10 days. I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday, let alone a week ago.
The state sent me texts checking up on my status, and then sent me a text when I was set free to rejoin society.
So, we are now statistics on the state's COVID-19 website.
We need a better system
Now, about testing. I realize this is a spike that will eventually subside, but there has to be a better way to conduct COVID-19 testing than standing outside in the cold for an hour or more and then swabbing your nostrils in front of the world – also outside in the cold.
There has to be a better way. What happened to drive-through sites? Why can't school gymnasiums be used when school is not in session? How about a text or number system so people who are getting tested at Curative sites can at least sit in their vehicles?
It doesn't make sense to make people who are sick, or who are about to get sick, stand outside in a long waiting line.
We learned there is a secret testing world out there. We had some friends who received tests at their church, and others were able to get appointments at places where appointments weren't available.
Before we went to Curative, we logged on to every pharmacy website to schedule a test and weren't able to get one for at least a week or 10 days. We also had no luck at state service centers.
And forget about buying an at-home test kit.
If you go on the state's COVID website, you'll find 10 testing sites in Sussex County, but only two to cover the entire east side of the county – Aspira Health in Lewes and Rite Aid in Long Neck. The Georgetown area has four test sites.
That doesn't include pop-up Curative test sites, which don't appear to have a regular schedule. There are no sites listed on the website for this area in the immediate future.