And this is why you can’t trust the numbers. (In other words, yes, it’s in your community.)

“You might have COVID-19.”

That’s what the doctor said at the end of my telehealth consultation.

But there is no test for me.

She explained that the only people eligible for testing are exhibiting symptoms AND have severe autoimmune deficiency, are in their third trimester of pregnancy, or are healthcare or emergency personnel.

And this is in Michigan, a state with one of the most rapidly unfolding epicenters to be found in Detroit. Cook county in Chicago (whose residents with summer homes have been fleeing to the Michigan Lakeshore) and Wayne county near Detroit are already hot spots.

Supposedly, my county only has one case.

Except who knows how many people are calling in like me and being told they probably have it but that they don’t qualify for a test at this time?

The problem with not having enough tests isn’t JUST that people who have the virus won’t get treated; it’s also that those tests are used to gauge the extent of the pandemic’s reach. If you don’t test enough people – especially if you don’t test sick people suspected of having the virus – those numbers will be unequivocal only in their incorrectness.

I’ve been saying it for weeks; there are not enough tests being given. And although the news made me think this hurdle was behind us, my recent call with the doctor proves that it isn’t.

Just last week, residents in Michigan were joking about how seriously everyone was taking this issue. After all, there were only 3 documented cases in the entire state at the time. So despite the mass exodus from Chicago and the growing unease in the country, we kept going out.

And now, we talk about deadlines and returning to work, even amidst the epicenter that Detroit is becoming and the chaos beginning to murmur in Illinois.

“It isn’t in the suburbs,” we post on social media

“It hasn’t hit my friends list,” we say to each other.

“It hasn’t impacted my family,” we whisper to ourselves.

But we don’t really know where it has reached. Because those who have it won’t show symptoms for another week.

And those who are showing symptoms aren’t being tested.

So the next time you look at the number of cases in your city, county, or state and breathe a sigh of relief, remember:

The numbers being reported are only the tip of the iceberg.

And if you are looking at the number of cases in your area and freaking out, God help you. Because that is still only a portion of the true impact to your community.

Wash your hands. Stay home.

And since you don’t have anything better to do, share this with a friend who doesn’t think COVID-19 is a big deal.

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