Why is it so hard to find a COVID test these days?
Yep yep to the yep yep It’s your girl, POC. Coronavirus cases are spiking in Philly and around the country, rapid at-home tests have dwindled and testing sites are crowded. People are so desperate, they’re lining up for unauthorized pop-ups that the Health Department has warned might not be legitimate.
A number of news outlets have characterized this moment as a failure of the Biden administration. And he did vow to fix the country’s chronic shortage of COVID-19 tests when he entered the White House. But his strategy to distribute 500 million at-home tests came too late to help holiday travelers and even now people are wondering how long they’ll have to wait.
While we can now all order free at-home tests to be delivered to our doorsteps, it’s unclear how quickly they’ll arrive. Meanwhile, drugstore shelves are still bare, and many folks are left with no means to safely gauge their infection status — affecting work, school and travel plans (as well as peace of mind).
So I hit the streets of Philadelphia to ask, Does the scarcity of COVID testing make you Mad or Nah?
Neighbors sound off! NOTE: Some speakers provide their names & neighborhoods, some don’t. Check out their voices in the original recorded interviews, transcribed here:
- Frustrated, I guess? I was fortunate to find a couple of home tests, but they’re few and far between. It’s all very frustrating, in terms of how the pandemic has been handled from the very beginning, certainly in the previous administration, and some challenges even in this administration, as well. – West Washington Square
- I’m not surprised, because the government as a whole seems disconnected from each other. The government so big, it has to be reactive instead of proactive and so they’re trying to catch up, but COVID is too transmissible. You got to be in front of it, you can’t be behind. So most plans that they put into effect require so many levels of approval. But at time it’s approved, it’s too late. The pandemic’s making a lot of money for a lot of rich people. So they’re not going to get a handle on it until they come up with another way to make some more money. – Germantown
- Not really mad, it’s just uncomfortable for us. Two weeks ago, I was sick, I was trying to get an appointment for a test, and you can’t find it. I look online, I go out to the pharmacies, and you can’t find any test kits. So it’s annoying. It’s not really mad. It’s just annoying. – Spring Garden
- Not only am I angry, but I think it’s more disappointment because I voted for Biden. And I thought he was going to do justice. And I don’t see justice for Philadelphia. Sorry. – Center City
- I haven’t had to take a test yet, I’m trying to keep myself safe for the most part. But hopefully things’ll get better. You’ll have more tests for people, so they won’t be waiting in line all day, and there’s no more tests. – Northeast Philly
- I think the situation sucks, I think it should be made available to everybody. If they’re having a mandate we have to be vaccinated, then they should at least be able to get tested as an option. Yeah I’m upset. I work in the restaurant business. It’s greatly affected the business I work in, so I had to get out of state to avoid the vaccination. So that way I can freely work and not be oppressed by the government. – North Philly (but from South Philly)
- I think it’s ridiculous. Like I’ve seen that they’re saying like, “Oh, there’s so many places handing out tests and all this.” But everyone I talked to can’t find an at-home test. We’re supposedly handing them out for free in so many places. But people in the Philadelphia just don’t have access to them right now. They they’re handing them out like a month ago. How does that help people who are sick right now? And that’s just making it so it spreads more, because everyone’s out searching for them. – West Philly
- Basically it is what it is, you know what I’m saying? It’s a win and lose situation. The bottom line is that they’re not keeping up to their part. It’s not only just Philadelphia, you know. – Resident
Editor’s Note: The Biden Administration announced a service providing free COVID tests (4 per household) delivered via USPS to your home address. CLICK HERE
How ‘Bout You?
Mad or Nah is an original woman-on-the-street interview series from REVIVE Radio that asks Philadelphians about issues impacting their everyday life. This edition originally aired January 12, 2022 on WHYY.com and on 90.9FM.
Tamara Russell aka Proof of Consciousness aka P.O.C. hosts and produces a variety of award-winning shows featured on Uptown Radio 98.5FM and Philly’s WHYY/NPR/PBS outlets. Read more in our feature on this multi-talented motivator, Wouldn’t It Be NICE? (June 2021).