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COVID testing is not the only answer, so let’s stay focused on these 4 things

Suddenly, we are obsessed with testing—again. But asymptomatic, vaccinated people do not need to stand in the frigid cold, hour-long lines to test. And they do not need to quarantine if exposed to COVID.

I recently had a young, sick patient faint and lose consciousness as she stood for hours in the cold waiting in line. She was positive for COVID, and now she also had a head injury from fainting. I then treated a seven-month-old baby also positive for COVID. He, too, waited in line with his mom in 28-degree weather to be seen. Later, I moved on to an unvaccinated COPD patient positive for COVID and could not breathe. 

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Youngstown City Heath Department worker Kathy Johnson talks with drivers before giving them at-home COVID-19 test kits during a distribution event, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Youngstown City Heath Department worker Kathy Johnson talks with drivers before giving them at-home COVID-19 test kits during a distribution event, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Too many patients are in line just to be cleared to go to school or back to work despite having no symptoms and are vaccinated. This is a waste of time and not a wise use of scarce resources.

Over the past 2 years I have treated, diagnosed, and tested more than 21,000 COVID patients. But in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, 95 percent of my patients were COVID positive. Doctors did not have a test to diagnose them at that time, but we used our clinical skills. There’s a reason I spent 13 years of my life in medical school and training—for that very moment.  

Clinically, my colleagues and I knew our patients had COVID by their physical examination, history, and symptoms. COVID can even be seen on a chest x-ray—it looks like snow on a TV. So, we did our jobs without the tests then, and as we enter the third year of the pandemic, sadly we are now back at square one because of the epic failure of the Biden administration. President Donald Trump’s administration passed the baton to the Biden administration with vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, tests, antivirals, and more. But the current administration not only dropped the baton, it took us two steps backward by its repulsive lack of preparation, planning, and not anticipating the basic needs of Americans during the cold winter months when we know cases tend to rise.

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Too many seem to forget what’s equally important to, if not better than, testing—good ventilation! Air filtration, and of course vaccination, is important, as is being outdoors in the fresh air rather than in a poorly ventilated room.  

Don’t be fooled. Don’t let the numbers scare you. Yes, COVID cases are up to one million per day. That number is probably triple or quadruple more due to lack of positive home test reporting. And yes, hospitalizations have surpassed 100,000. But guess what? The death count is down. That’s right, it’s dropping precipitously thanks to President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed which gave us three vaccines to keep us alive. Keep in mind the fact that Omicron is less virulent—meaning it’s less dangerous. This may lead to more herd immunity and potentially the end of the pandemic. Time will tell.

Healthcare workers administer nasal swabs to drivers and passengers at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Zoo Miami, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) 

Healthcare workers administer nasal swabs to drivers and passengers at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Zoo Miami, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) 

So, let’s stay focused on what really matters right now.

1. Keep kids in school;
2. Preserve the work force;
3. Use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of tests, monoclonal antibodies, and antiviral pills; 
4. And continue the “together project” which involves the testing of already existing drugs like fluvoxamine, budesonide, ivermectin, colchicine, and more.

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It still remains that cancers, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, and opioid abuse are the top killers in our country—not COVID. We must learn to coexist live with and adapt to COVID. It should no longer rule our lives nor dictate our path forward. We must find a balance between physical safety and our emotional and mental well-being. Encouraging, motivating, and incentivizing Americans to get vaccinated is critical toward staying out of the hospital, ending a pandemic, and reaching herd immunity.  

We are approaching nearly 65 percent of Americans fully vaccinated coupled with the high number of Americans who already recovered from COVID and therefore have natural immunity. This puts us in a very good place.  

The paradigm of COVID has evolved. We cannot stop Omicron. It will make its rounds and traverse the nation. We can only minimize its impact and meanwhile allow society and our economy to continue functioning.

Testing is useful, but not the end all. Be smart. Be safe during this spike. In about a month, it too will pass. Go on, live your life, and do it safely. 

Dr. Janette Nesheiwat is a board-certified family and emergency medicine physician and a Fox News medical contributor.

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