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LETTER: COVID testing highlights nation’s deep inequities

The line of cars snaked around the parking lot of the once-bustling mall in northwest Las Vegas. The mask-wearing drivers and passengers in the yellow parking lot at Meadows Mall looked anxious. You could see it in the blank stares in their eyes.

They weren’t waiting in line for the latest IPhone or electronic gadget. Rather they were part of the nationwide post-holiday crush of COVID test seekers. On Jan. 2, I joined hundreds of people in this seemingly endless trail of tail lights who were willing and worried enough to pay $199 to find out if we had the latest variant that is sweeping through the country, breaking through the vaccine and the booster and reminding us all that, although we may be tired of the pandemic, it isn’t tired of us.

As if the physical and emotional toll of the pandemic isn’t enough, now there are no tests on the shelves and the process to register for testing is far from user-friendly. I had to go to two sites before finally getting a test that was supposed to be back in a day, but ended up taking three. I was one of the lucky ones. Several members of my family went for tests with appointments, only to be told the tests had run out. For those of us who have the acumen, time and money, it was an inconvenience. But what about those who don’t have computers to make appointments, cars to get to their appointments and cash to pay for their tests?

The whole debacle is an alarming reminder of the deep inequities that exist in this country. The COVID testing process illustrates one more line of demarcation, pun intended, between the haves and have-nots.

I know this is new to all of us. I am trying to practice patience and send love to all who are making it up as we muddle along. However, I can’t give a pass to our leaders at every level, who always seem to leave the least among us holding the bag at the end of the line.

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