Globe’s Point: Testing distribution needs to change

We’re currently experiencing a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. This surge has been amplified by the holidays, something that also happened last year, but this year the surge is much larger. Yes, the Omicron variant has led to less severe cases among the vaccinated on average. However, an overwhelming number of people getting sick, and potentially spreading a dangerous virus to others who are especially vulnerable to the worst of the effects, is not something that should easily be dismissed. The thing that’s most frightening about this wave is how, despite record numbers, testing is less accessible than ever. Home tests are becoming increasingly and incredibly difficult to find, and they aren’t even 100% accurate. While it’s true that if your home test is negative and you are vaccinated you likely are not contagious, it’s still reasonable to be wary of their results.

On the flip side, a lab test can easily cost over $100, something that most college students can’t afford. Unfortunately, the university will only give testing to students who show symptoms.

This is, simply put, unscientific. This policy is simply not enough. Research has shown that the period of contagion and you can be contagious for COVID-19 up to three days before your symptoms start. With the number of COVID-19 cases on campus rising every day, we need to test so that we can be sure that everyone is safe. Testing for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are not showing symptoms (yet) should be offered. It is not enough to just hope for the best. With everyone being back in the classroom full time, we need to test rigorously and keep a steady line of communication.

Part of this falls on the university, but another part of this falls on us as a student body. If you’re exposed, get tested. If you’re symptomatic, get tested. If you’re positive, let your professors and peers know.

We know that the university and the student body both want to be back in the classroom, and we do too. But the best way to do that (and to do that for the whole semester) is to test consistently.