Art documents the pandemic like a visual diary. Covid-19 experiences highlight how the illness is not the flu. Until a friend, family, or yourself experiences it firsthand- dismissal to fear enters. There’s no vaccine for Covid-19 and is more infectious with a higher rate of hospitalization than the flu. Why gamble with dangerous denial?
March 25, 2020 description: My art practice investigates symbols of influence and power that impact perception. Starting in early March, I had unprecedented fatigue, chest heaviness, fever, loss of taste/smell, and altered vision. After talking to numerous doctors over three weeks and in self-quarantine, was finally told that Covid-19 tests were being “saved for healthcare providers and patients close to being on ventilators.” Exhausted, scared, and angry, I drove to Hayward, California for a free COVID-19 test. Paperwork indicated that I would be contacted only within 72 hours if a positive result. Almost a week later, received a phone message that the test was negative almost 30 days after experiencing my first symptom. The paperwork states: “please be advised that a negative test result does not completely exclude you from having COVID-19.” Medical advice stated to self-quarantine for another week due to unreliable Covid-19 test accuracy, taking the test long after first symptoms, and that two negative tests within 24 hours are needed for healthcare professionals to return to work. March was a lost month with social isolation and no physical contact with others. When petting my dog again, he cried, and snuggled close. A hug from my husband was taken granted before but no longer again. The artwork memorializes the testing date and paperwork grieving the loss of time, healthcare system failures, government lack of accountability, unresolved answers, and lingering physical/mental impacts. My hope is that a reliable antibody test is created to deliver answers to address the fear of going into public and shame/stigma of sharing a Covid-19 experience.
My experience is not an unique. Local residents have experienced serious issues of unreliable Covid-19 data trying to navigate one’s health and future. From VIDA founder and CEO Umaimah Mendhro’s We are Making Life and Death Decisions based on Unreliable Data article: “While widely accepted in the medical community, what I did not know at that point is that up to 30% of people who have COVID-19 may receive a False Negative result. I have seen doctors at 4 medical facilities: UCSF, One Medical, Carbon Health, and Alta Bates, and every single one of them disregarded my Negative COVID test results. Every single one of them spoke about the 30% False Negatives. ‘Should I repeat the test?’ I asked. ‘No need,’ said one of my doctors, ‘the test is not really reliable.’ ‘I am not surprised you have a Negative result,’ said another doctor, ‘I would be shocked if you don’t have COVID.’ I had to go to ER when my symptoms worsened one day. ‘Should you let ER know that you believe my test results may be incorrect? That there’s a 30% False Negative rate?’ I asked my doctor, ‘That won’t be needed. Everyone in the medical community knows already,’ was the response.”
Politicians motivated by power and perverted ideology encourage shelter-in-place protestors to demand “freedom” by sacrificing citizens. What about my freedom to live?
A recent doctor call inquiring about an antibody test mimicked a basic internet search: don’t have them, not much is known, and unreliable results. Our healthcare system (for those privileged to have access) lacks Covid-19 resources and answers. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, and shelter-in-place. From NPR last week, U.S. vaccine official Dr. Rick Bright in congressional testimony indicated that 2020 could be “darkest winter in modern history.”
What’s your plan?