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“My wife and I both recently tested positive for COVID and thankfully recovered. I thought we’d share our experience.”

Photo by LaTur

“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I both recently tested positive for COVID and thankfully recovered. I thought we’d share our experience.

I applaud DC’s efforts to provide extensive and free testing. This program is the reason that we were able to quickly detect our infection and isolate from and protect our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. I know that residents in other states do not have this same resource.

However, after experiencing the full cycle of testing through quarantine, it is clear to us that DC’s exposure and tracing program is deeply flawed.

First, we both received our first phone calls from contact tracers approximately 48 hours after receiving our positive test results. By then, we had already spent hours online parsing through disparate guidance to figure out how to manage the quarantine. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for less media savvy residents (let alone essential workers, providing distance learning environments for their children) to find and implement the right guidance during the most infectious period of the virus.

Second, while the contact tracers were nice, they texted us links to a supposed DC Covid guide that was supposed to answer all of our questions. That link did not work for either of us.

I complained that the link did not work and it was sent to me three times, none of which worked. We were also enrolled in two different text messaging programs for keeping track of our day-to-day symptoms/conditions. My wife’s program worked; mine did not.

Third, we were both also sent a link to the much vaunted CAN exposure notification system in order to identify ourselves as having been exposed. That link did not work for either of us and we never received a verification code despite our multiple requests. My wife’s contact tracer admitted that the system had widespread problems and did not work for him/her when tested. My wife received notification from the exposure tracing system that she had had contact with someone infected, but it was more than two weeks after that contact (far from being useful).

Fourth, although I had multiple calls from the contact tracer, I was not told by the contact tracer until my 12th day of quarantine that I should not break quarantine until I received an approved letter from DC. My wife was never told and never received such a letter. If there is a letter required to break quarantine, DC contract tracers should tell people from the beginning and it should be more publicly known.

We told our contact tracers each of these fundamental flaws with the contact tracing program. My wife’s contact tracer admitted all the flaws and just said the programs are not working and they all know it. My contact tracer told me there isn’t even a place to submit this sort of feedback but s/he can mark it down in the notes of my individual case.

We are now on month 10 of the pandemic. While DC government seems to be doing a great job on the front side of the problem in terms of testing, the back side (exposure notifications, contact tracing, personal instruction) was a mess in our recent experiences.

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