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Should I or should I not get tested for COVID-19?

I’ve put off getting tested for COVID-19, but now seems like the right time to make sure I’m not part of the spread.

A phlebotomist collects a nasopharyngeal swab sample to test for the coronavirus for a man at a lab’s drive-thru testing site in the parking lot.
Is it time to take a COVID-19 test, as so many others have done?
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

I have not.

I have not taken.

I have not taken a COVID-19 test.

I don’t know why that feels like a shameful confession.

Maybe it’s because so, so many people have died worldwide from this pandemic — 1.28 million according to the “Our World in Data” website.

Or maybe what I’m really feeling is survivor’s guilt.

I am, after all, in a group considered high-risk for catching the virus.

I’m Black. I’m a senior citizen. I have a compromised immune system.

In the spring, I was terrified of catching the virus from a door handle, or grocery cart, or elevator button.

Still, I twice flew Southwest Airlines to Orlando, Florida, to tend to a friend. With its masked-up crew and rows of empty seats, those were the best flights I’ve ever taken.

The few passengers on board were suited up in masks, gloves, hoodies and loaded with disinfecting wipes.

Each time I returned home to a week of self-isolation, and with every intention of getting a COVID-19 test.

But I didn’t.

I just couldn’t think of a good enough reason to do so at a time when testing supplies were iffy and front-line workers needed them.

And honestly, I didn’t relish the idea of someone jamming a swab up my nose.

Besides, I was pretty sure I was good-to-go because I couldn’t get in any public place without someone taking my temperature and asking me questions about my health.

Throughout this pandemic, I’ve been blessed not to have a cold or a cough, though my allergies have been awful.

So why am I now considering taking myself (and my reluctant husband) to a testing site?

The truth is I’m back to being scared.

Instead of going away, this virus is digging in, and a lot more people are contributing to the spread.

We don’t yet know the fallout from the jubilee that took place on the field at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday when Notre Dame beat Clemson in a 47-40 double-overtime game.

And while photographs show there were a lot of masked-up young people packed on the field, there were a lot of them using their mask as a chin warmer.

I get it.

We all want to go back to handshakes, fist bumps and high-fives.

I haven’t had a decent grandma hug since the pandemic started. The days of relaxing with friends at our favorite restaurants are a distant memory.

But as long as health officials have to warn people daily to avoid large gatherings, to social distance and to wear masks, it’s not safe out there.

I don’t know what President-elect Joe Biden can do to change the mindset of people who refuse to even wear a mask in public.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s public health commissioner, estimates “there could be up to 145,000 active cases of COVID-19 citywide,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Arwady acknowledged that when she’s out and about in Chicago, she doesn’t see people taking the pandemic as seriously as they did in the spring.

That spells trouble for the rest of us.

But it’s not a good idea to confront people about not wearing a mask, particularly since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the use of cloth masks does offer the wearer a level of protection.

That gives me some hope.

So if I stay away from people, wash my hands obsessively, wear a mask everywhere and keep my high-fives to myself, I should be good, shouldn’t I?

The reality is maybe not. There is still a lot that is unknown, and the list of COVID-19 symptoms keeps growing.

First it was fever, cough and fatigue. Now that list includes loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, chills, sore throat, runny nose, headache, rashes, chest pain and pink eye.

When you hit the 70s, you can find yourself complaining about any one of those conditions daily.

Still, I don’t feel good about putting this off.

It is time to get tested.