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Home Coronavirus Mr. Mayor, Why Haven't You Demonstrated the Easier & Safer COVID-19 Self-Swab Test?

Mr. Mayor, Why Haven’t You Demonstrated the Easier & Safer COVID-19 Self-Swab Test?

Mr. Mayor, why haven’t you Demonstrated the Easier & Safer COVID-19 Self-Swab Test?

Two days ago, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo demonstrated on live TV how supposedly simple the COVID-19 Swab test is. Yet ‘how simple’ is a matter of opinion and perspective. Being ‘simple’ doesn’t exactly preclude unease. Not too many people feel comfortable having a long object pushed up into their nasal cavity.

Twenty years ago, as preparation for a Bronchoscopy, I’d had one shoved up my nose and it felt like the doctor was actually reaching into my brain. It was neither horrifying nor painful, but it’s an experience I’ve never forgotten. I’m not the squeamish type, mind you.

Mayor de Blasio at COVID-19 community testing site at NYC Health + Hospitals/ Gotham Health, Morrisania.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visits the recently opened COVID-19 community testing site at NYC Health + Hospitals/ Gotham Health in Morrisania, Bronx on Saturday Wednesday, April 25, 2020. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

On April 27, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio first mentioned the Self-Swab & Spit test. Something which allows the patient to self administer the test with a smaller swab; and because one’s doing it to themselves, there’s the added protection for the practitioner. The Mayor’s own related words can be seen farther down on the page.

Immediately after hearing the mayor speak of this newer method, I looked for any sort of demonstration. I couldn’t find any. Surely, if people were shown how much simpler it is then they’d be more inclined to volunteer, no?

If you’re wondering about the criteria required to take such a test then make no mistake. The path is being paved to allow for more and more testing with less and less required criteria. Both the Mayor and the Governor have been announcing how far we’ve come in raising the numbers of tests being given.

I personally asked the mayor, two days ago, if he wished for a day when all of New York could be tested without the need for any criteria. He responded in the affirmative.

“I would love nothing more than the day to come when that could be truly as universal as we want it to be,” said the Mayor.

So, my question is this. What’s with the hesitation? The city and state make announcements during their press conferences but don’t exactly follow up. Follow up, that is, with widespread announcements. Not everyone bothers with your conferences. A lot of folk are tired of the news. So I hope they weren’t expecting the word to get out that way.

Recently, on May 7, the Mayor announced a ‘Citywide Antibody Survey’. With 5,000 tests per day and 70,000 over the course of two weeks, this mass-testing would be available within select communities with near zero criteria needing to be met. I took this test yesterday. Yet, finding the relevant information after the announcement didn’t come easy. It surely wasn’t readily available within the NYC Department of Health site.

The Mayor did make mention of a Massive Public Awareness Campaign on April 24. We’ve no clue if such things will be outlined in better fashion when that time comes. Honestly, there’s the distinct possibility that it’s already taken place, or in the process of taking place; and we’ve no hint of that fact.

Recent COVID-19 Flyer Mailing from the City. Doesn’t the design and color look familiar?

Except, for the occasional commercial featuring the Head of the Health Dept, Dr. Oxiris Barbot speaking of generalized COVID-19 pointers. Not to mention an informative flyer we received in the mail. Too bad they applied the same exact colors and design used by a local Fitness Gym which we’re always inclined to dump in the garbage. Not that we dumped it, but imagine how many others might have.

So, getting back to the initial main point of this writing:

Mr. Mayor, will you take the Easier Self-Swab test for all to see; if not on live TV then as a recording? Having it live-streamed isn’t as important as merely showing people everywhere how easy it is. ‘and honestly, it doesn’t even have to be you. Just having anyone demonstrating it would still go far.

There’s no question in my mind (until there’s an actual vaccine) that of the paths out of this mess involves massive constant testing. The city and state, so far, is allowing for more and more testing with even greater numbers in the future. None of it is mandatory it seems. So if you want people to voluntarily come forward then you need to make them aware of how much easier it is.

Mayor de Blasio on April 27:

“But the challenge has been, and I saw this with my own eyes on Saturday, that the test process we’ve known up to now, the test kits that were used, which had a specific long swab, and it required a trained medical professional to administer the test. Not fun and easy, very long swab, had to go way up into someone’s nose, had to be handled a certain way, kept in a certain environment to be sent on to the lab. This was a more elaborate process, and not only slower, more elaborate for the patient, but for the health care worker. A challenge in many ways, and our health care workers have gone through so much already but realize even in the testing process how much they had to do. A health care worker, even to do one test, had to put on, if you will, their body armor.”

“So, we’re calling it, just to make it simple, straight forward self-swab tests. What does it mean? It means when you go to one of the community testing sites, instead of the health care worker having to be all prepared with all the PPE’s, and then take that very long swab, and administer the test. Now this is a whole different thing. This means the health care worker explains to the person there for the test how to administer the test themselves. They go into another room for privacy, and the patient takes something that’s basically a sterile Q-tip, puts that in their nose. They don’t have to go way deep, just enough to get a sample. They, forgive my bluntness, they spit into a cup, and that, those two samples, provide enough information for the testing to be done. Much simpler, much easier for everyone involved, no chance to cause the same kind of sneezing that that long swab way up the nose does. Simpler but also safer, especially for that health care worker.”

The following would be the text borrowed from the NY State Department of Health website:

New, Less Intrusive Test

New York State’s Wadsworth Lab has developed a new, less intrusive test for COVID-19. The new test is done through a saliva sample and a self-administered short nasal swab in the presence of a health care professional. Additionally, health care professionals can self-administer the test without another health care professional present.

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