White House Rapid Test Results Almost As Accurate As Fortune Teller Reading
Guests at President Prospero's Red Death ball in honor of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett thought they were safe to party within the Rose Garden walls because everyone had tested negative for COVID-19 and basic human decency, but the results were less than reliable.
The White House relies on the "rapid" test, Abbott's ID Now, to screen all visitors. This is how Trump felt comfortable enough to never wear a mask, social distance, or cuddle up for FaceTime calls with the Barstool Sports guy.
The ID Now has several qualities in its favor: It's portable, doesn't need skilled technicians to operate and delivers results in 15 minutes.
Or your money back! (Offer will not be honored.)
The ID Now was never intended to help Republicans pretend COVID-19 exists. If you try to ignore the coronavirus, it'll go all Fatal Attraction on you.
The ID Now boasts a 95 percent success rate for identifying the virus in people with symptoms, but anyone with eyes can tell when someone is obviously sick with COVID-19. A good recent example is The Great Gaspy himself (h/t Wonkette commenter, "grindstone, classy AF") during his Truman Balcony address. You wouldn't come within a mile of the guy unless you were a Secret Service agent under duress.
However, when it comes to identifying COVID-19 in asymptomatic people, the ID Now is more consistently wrong than David Brooks.
But in people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms, the test is much less accurate, missing as many as one in three cases.
That's a 33 percent failure rate. You wouldn't board a plane that had a "one in three" chance of crashing into a mountain. Well, maybe Trump would right now. He's feeling indestructible.
Relying on negative test results from the ID Now as a way to conduct business as usual is dangerous, reckless, and just-plain stupid. It's vintage Trump, but there's no reason our Democratic ticket that has possession of its faculties should participate. Keep Joe Biden and Kamala Harris off the stage with anyone from this White House.
Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."