How awkward

I got into the doctor’s office today. I was hoping for strep throat (what a thing to hope for!), and they ruled that out fast. Out came the inevitable COVID-19 test, and I got the stick up the nose and my olfactory lobe scrambled, and that’s being sent off for testing, which will take a few days.

Then, surprise surprise, the doctor informs me that while my test results are pending, I’m quarantined! And I’m supposed to teach a lab tomorrow! Frantic backtracking and trying to figure out alternatives ensues.

I really, really wanted this to be strep. I could clear that up pretty quickly.


  1. says

    That’s the sensible thing to do while you’re waiting. No use people running around infecting people to find out about it 3 days later.
    Though I haven’t heard back from my test which has been three weeks ago. I’m not quarantined, though, because the test wasn’t for current symptoms but for teachers just to be sure…

  2. Ed Seedhouse says

    Chances are it won’t be COVID-19, but you probably don’t want to be running around infecting people if it is, so it’s best to hide from the world for awhile. Here in Canada the rule is if you feel bad, stay home, period. Not that it’s always followed, alas, but it is the official rule.

  3. René says

    If I were walking in your shoes, I would be scared as hell. Those will be a horrible few days. Hoping for the best,

    (Actually, I am scared as hell. Amsterdam has most infections in the Netherlands, and my part of the city has second most infections. And figures are rising.)

  4. raven says

    … and that’s being sent off for testing, which will take a few days.

    Testing is often broken where I am on the west coast.

    Sometimes, it can take two weeks or longer for a test result to come back.
    Which makes the test all but useless.
    In two weeks you might have had Covid-19 and died from it.
    Or infected an unknown but large number of people including your entire family.
    Contact tracing doesn’t work with that lag.
    Who did you get within 6 feet of two weeks ago anyway.

    It’s not a local fault either. There are shortages of all the testing reagents and materials and this is a national problem.

  5. numerobis says

    COVID has been booming in Quebec lately; suddenly we’re over 500 cases per day, as opposed to well under 100/day the week before we opened schools.

    The government blames kids partying too loudly, but we were partying all summer so why is it booming now?

    I find the coincidence of opening schools and a huge increase in cases starting precisely the week after that, to be rather hard to ignore.

  6. opposablethumbs says

    Ugh. I’m sorry to hear it, and I hope you get a negative result – and get it promptly.
    And get better soon!

    At least you were able to see a doctor and get tested :-s (hereabouts, from what I’ve heard, it’s next to impossible to even get a test – much less get it processed and receive your result).

  7. Craig says

    I was admitted for observation at a local hospital overnight a few weeks ago with chest pains. They did the COVID test in the hospital as part of my admission and treated me as quarantined under contact protocol until the negative results came back a few hours later. It’s absurd to me that if a hospital in one state can have the results in a few hours, that there isn’t an outcry for the same capacity everywhere.

    (FWIW, the chest pains didn’t turn out to be anything either – which was not totally surprising given that I had only had a full physical with good numbers a few weeks before that.)

  8. brightmoon says

    Well feel better and get some rest . My son had coronavirus but he’s ok . They sent him home with an inhaler . Keep warm , drink lots of water , I’d try the salt gargle too.

  9. nomdeplume says

    Oh PZ, you know we are all thinking of you and wishing you well. I’d cross my fingers but …. arthritis!

  10. PaulBC says

    @10 And here I was expecting you to say it’s because you are rational and not superstitious. Good feint!

  11. blf says

    It seems to me that if poopyhead must quarantine — which does seem sensible — then so must the Trophy Wife, for rather obvious reasons. She could have been infected, but is currently either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic.

  12. garnetstar says

    Best wishes that you are negative.

    The hell with scrambling around and making arrangements: your university got you into being possibly exposed, without adequate protections and regular testing of all faculty and students. It’s their problem, not yours, if you must quarantine. Dump it onto their laps. I know it’s difficult to abandon your students, but your university hasn’t actually been looking out for their welfare, either.

  13. birgerjohansson says

    Obviously, a witch has placed a curse on you. If you eat eye of bat you will be OK in a jiffy.
    If It is demonic possession, you must make your body so uncomfortable that the spirit moves out of its own accord. Ask your wife to flog you for ten minutes.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Our University (Umeå, Sweden) had a voluntary mass testing of students and staff at the beginning of the month. Only six cases of an active infection were found among 9907 tests.
    This is very favourable, but it is a drop from a quite bad situation in the spring. Back then, the University was simply closed down. Now, it will be a matter of constant vigilance to prevent a resurgence.

  15. jrkrideau says

    @ 6 numerobis
    Ontario’ up to ~400+ per day. Judging by the mobs of university students I am seeing on the streets physical distancing is not at the front of mind.

    I noticed quite a line-up at the Covid testing centre, probably 60–80 people on the sidewalk, some people even brought lawn chairs.

  16. says

    Well, focus on the good news, which is that if you do have coronavirus, the fact that you’ve already been sick for a few days and are still feeling well enough to teach a lab means you’re presumably not one of the people who get really serious complications. That’s cold comfort, but better cold comfort than no comfort.

    @#8, Craig

    It’s absurd to me that if a hospital in one state can have the results in a few hours, that there isn’t an outcry for the same capacity everywhere.

    There are, apparently, (at least) two different types of test — one is fast (the kind you got) and one takes a few days. I was told by a hospital doctor a few weeks back that the fast test is not very accurate, that they had had people with negative test results on the fast test who very obviously had coronavirus, so they basically ignored the test results if the symptoms didn’t match up with them. I’m pretty sure that a test with a lot of false negatives is not the kind of thing you want everybody using during an epidemic.

  17. John Morales says

    Vicar, Singular:

    That’s cold comfort, but better cold comfort than no comfort.

    Indeed. Essentially, the lesser of two evils. ;)

  18. magistramarla says

    My daughter who lives in Colorado was having sinus infection symptoms. She recognized them immediately, since she’s had sinus infections along with her severe asthma all of her life. Before she could see her doctor, she was required to get tested for COVID. Luckily for her, the test results came back much more quickly than expected, and showed her to be negative.
    She was then able to see her doctor, who confirmed that she had a raging sinus infection, which took two rounds of antibiotics and steroids to eradicate.
    Hopefully, that means that Colorado is on top of their testing protocols.

  19. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I want to bet that all students would understand your absence as a matter of ensuring you would not expose them to the possibility you have the COVID, and without realizing it model your adherence to safe procudure, by following the quarantine rule after a COVID test from symptoms and not from a random asymptomatic test. [I hope I didn’t mangle that sentence] Most students respect professors who are honest and direct about their absence.

  20. vairitas says

    I got tested in Washington state before coming to the UK and got the results the next day.
    But cheer up Paul maybe you just got the flu

  21. dorght says

    My daughter graduated with a BS Medical Laboratory Scientist degree in December. Talk about timing. She took a job in a large city hospital. Guess who she get calls to prioritize tests for. Major league sports players and hospital administrators (who don’t actually interact with patients).
    She agrees with the below article that points out what should be the difference between surveillance and diagnostic tests. Most in hospital diagnostic tests are actually mostly pointless just confirming the diagnosis the doctor already made because the doctor can’t wait that long.

  22. KG says

    Best wishes, PZ.

    I find the coincidence of opening schools and a huge increase in cases starting precisely the week after that, to be rather hard to ignore.

    Hadn’t you heard? The virus has very considerately agreed not to transmit itself in educational settings. Or religious ones, at least according to multiple preachers.