I was tested for Covid-19 a week ago. The procedure itself was seamless. I had an appointment at a local drive-through testing site and never had to get out of the car. I checked in at one set of cones, was told to drive to a tent across the parking lot, and then a doctor appeared at my window. She handed me a cotton swab and told me to swirl it in my left nostril 10 times, and then she had me do the same thing with a different swab in my right nostril. She sealed the swabs in vials, and that was it. I was supposed to get results back in two to three days. I’m still waiting.
I’m fairly sure I don’t have Covid. I don’t have any symptoms, and as far as I know, I wasn’t exposed to anyone with the virus. I got tested out of an abundance of caution after my Mount St. Helens hike, since I spent two lengthy car trips with my buddy who has a toddler in daycare.
Awaiting these results is a kind of microcosm of life at the moment. Everything is so uncertain. Globally, we’re awaiting a vaccine that can help us safely move on. Personally, I’m searching for some kind of opening that can allow me to begin picturing what the future might bring.
That’s the thing about answers—they are definitive. Or, at least, they are meant to offer some kind of clarity. Once I receive my Covid test results, I’ll have directive. I’ll know if I should isolate strictly, or if I’m allowed to resume my “normal” routines. Similarly, the broad distribution of a tested vaccine is the only way we can all start to envision life in a post-Covid world. In the meantime, we can imagine that an inoculation can help, and we can read about the different strategies being tried by various researchers. But until we actually have a vaccine administered to a strong majority of people, we simply won’t know. All the data will be unclear.
This murkiness is only exacerbated by the election. Like many Democrats, I’ll feel great relief if Biden wins and Trump agrees to peacefully transfer power. In so many ways, this would make it feel like the virus is over. I know it wouldn’t be, but there’d be something so reassuring about our interests being returned to caring hands. It’s easy to start imagining this result being possible. Biden’s lead in polls is even bigger than Hillary Clinton’s four years ago. And he’s up in swing states like Michigan that Trump carried in 2016.
But we need that definitive answer to assuage our anxieties. After all, we watched this movie go terribly wrong four years ago. Plus, this time around there is the very real worry that Trump will contest the results, eventually putting the outcome of the election in the hands of a 5-4 conservative majority court—an outcome that would be all the more maddening considering Merrick Garland should be on that bench.
That’s why the announcement of Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate was incredibly reassuring to me. It was a logical, unsurprising choice—though, indeed, historic. And it was necessary. Without having Harris officially named as the VP candidate, all we could do was speculate and guess. Biden’s decision may have taken a long time and missed deadlines that his own campaign set, but, finally, we have our answer. And I don’t know about you, but I’m quite pleased with the results. –Andrew Waite