I had five swab tests in four days

By Alex P. Vidal

“When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”—Donald Trump

I MADE a total of five swab tests in four days over the week.

Overkill? Maybe. Overacting? Possibly. Panicking? Probably.

I already have full Covid-19 vaccinations, a booster shot, and a flu shot. But why did I have to do that? Is one swab testing not enough?

First, swab testing is free in New York; testing centers are everywhere, and are mushrooming in the main thoroughfares in all the four boroughs: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island, Staten Island.

Second, we are required to submit Covid-19 swab testing results in our workplaces because of the record-breaking Omicron variant, which has eclipsed the Delta variant in terms of the number of persons infected in quick succession.

Ideally, yes, one swab test is enough. Two to three times in a short interval may not be necessary, at least from the point of view of ordinary observers.

Why five times? While strolling around, I took advantage of the accessible testing centers especially when there were few people queuing. If the line was kilometric in one testing center, I backpedaled and left.

As a result of my testing spree, I got three PCR and two rapid tests.

As of this writing, all my two rapid tests were negative (from Illinois-based Excel Labs and Astoria, New York-based Steinway Hope Medical).


I’m now waiting for my two PCR results from the same testing centers and one from Sylhet Pharmacy, based in Ozone Park, New York, which promised to release my result in five to seven days.

With or without insurance, anybody can walk straight to any Department of Health and New York State-accredited testing centers and get rapid and PCR testings simultaneously.

PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in the car.

In Queens, where there is a large number of multi-racial communities, it’s easy to locate the testing centers in the parked vans and buses, and in various kiosks on the sidewalks.

I heard that people in the Philippines who want to take a Covid-19 swab test will have to shell out cash and wait for an available schedule. Sometimes they have to reportedly elbow each other over for the limited slots, far cry from what is happening in the United States, where testing centers are the ones swooping down to the communities and enticing the people to take the test—for free.


NO WONDER MY REFUND HASN’T ARRIVED UNTIL NOW. The number of unprocessed tax returns the Internal Revenue Service (IRSA) has left over from the “most challenging year” taxpayers ever experienced is 11 million.

The backlog has been reportedly compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and longtime underfunding of the agency, forcing the IRS to head into the new filing season already behind.

The Treasury Department is already warning that taxpayers might experience processing delays filing their returns this year.


COVID paid sick leave is still in effect. That’s according to the New York State Department of Labor in its January Newsletter.

It said, “In New York State, COVID Paid Sick Leave is still in effect for employees ordered to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.”

Depending upon the size of the business, employers may be required to provide COVID Paid Sick Leave to employees without the use of regular accruals, it added.

“All employees, regardless of the size of their employer, are entitled to job protection upon return from COVID sick leave. Employees asserting these rights are protected under New York’s anti-retaliation laws,” explained the NYS DOL Newsletter.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)