As COVID-19 continues to tragically break new records of spread throughout the country, our testing capacity is beyond strained. Places like California, early in its response to the growing pandemic, are finding themselves hard-pressed to test enough people fast enough. Meanwhile, insufficient and slow testing and not enough stimulus support from the federal government for the overwhelming majority of Americans has led to new outbreaks.
Florida has been one of the hardest-hit places, with a Republican-led state government unwilling to either acknowledge the scope and breadth of the problem, and surging cases. The denialism of the problem is only made more criminal by the federal government and Republican officials’ unwillingness to be open about our terrible response. Some of the biggest problems facing the United States right now—as the right wing of this country is unwilling to provide aid to Americans in need, and instead would like to “reopen” the country in the hopes of getting enough of an economic bump to somehow protect conservative seats—are shortages in testing facilities and tests and the ability to analyze those tests in a timely matter.
Daily Kos community member SemDem wrote about his ongoing experience trying to get tested in Florida. Sadly, that experience is not unique, it is the rule. Living in the Bay Area, I’ve heard of people running fevers who have been advised by their physicians to get tested, but must wait at least one week before they can even get an appointment to be tested—let alone find out the results of that test. This makes managing the safety and well-being of any business, or school for that matter, an impossibility. Does this mean that every time a student, a teacher, or someone in contact with any of those people runs a fever, or has a bad cough, that schools or workplaces must quarantine for a couple of weeks to find out? Who pays for this? Who else is tested during that time?
Those questions and others—specifically surrounding the vague reopening of schools—can be read about here. But while none of this is even theoretically possible to work without testing, there seems to be very little will on the part of conservative states and the federal government to work to flatten the curve enough in order to allow for our testing capabilities to catch up.
However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, boasting like an imbecile, has convinced numerous sports owners and players to try and bring the bread and circuses athletics provides, even though the health ramifications are dubious. He even made professional wrestling entertainment an “essential service.”
Right now, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Soccer are all trying to do the pre-season training needed to begin what will pass for short seasons. Disney World has a “bubble” it created for MLS and the NBA. There has already been COVID-19 spread inside of said “bubble.” But more importantly, while hundreds of Floridians wait in lines and wonder if and when they can get tested for COVID-19, sports leagues are reportedly testing players and receiving results for those tests multiple times per week.
To be sure, there are a lot of jobs connected to sports reopening, but most of those jobs aren’t coming back this year regardless of whether or not you are able to watch your favorite sport on television at some point in 2020. Stadiums and arenas will not have fans, concession stands will not be open. Meanwhile, the approximately 19,000 tests that will be needed—per week—to approximate a healthy environment for these athletes might be better spent trying to get the problem under control in the state these players are inhabiting right now.