Fast: Just Try to Pick It

I feel a software-development management article coming on.

Good, cheap, fast: Pick two.

Of course it isn’t just software that is subject to this rule/mantra. In life in general, we really can’t have it all. I’d sort of come to terms with that but now this lovely pandemic has taken it to new heights. “Good” is defined for us: it must be a PCR test. Any old test won’t do. And forget “cheap”: It isn’t even on offer. That leaves “fast.”

What constitutes “fast” in this context? To board a flight to the USA, I need a timely COVID-19 test. The stick must go up my nose no longer than 72 hours before my departure time. Simple, eh? Not so fast. The test must also be time-certain. I must have my negative result in hand as I try to board my flight.

Now, the “good” test takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to be processed. Factor in weekends, statutory holidays, clinic hours, and schedules of available appointments, and it’s easy to see that I might not be able to book a test at the outer range of that 72-hour window. But if I book within it — say, as just one hypothetical example, a mere 48 hours before my flight — I run the risk of not having my result fast enough.


The free market for test results will catch up with these requirements, I have no doubt. Next year I expect we’ll have oodles of options for a fast test.

Some of them may even be cheap.

That would be good.


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13 Responses to Fast: Just Try to Pick It

  1. Pingback: New. But Normal? | Traditional Iconoclast

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Two out of three wouldn’t be too bad. Might even be workable. The trouble is that right now we can only count on one out of three.
    Here in B.C., we suffer through smoke-particle pollution higher than Delhi and Beijing. We long for wind, to blow the smoke away. But when/if it comes, it will fan the flames of forest fires. Similarly, we yearn for rain. But when rain comes, the earth will be too parched to retain the water. Wind, fire, flood — pick any two….
    Jim T

  3. Ken from Kenora says:

    Oh Isabel, now you’ve got me thinking about the ridiculous unavailability of rapid testing! I’ll be dwelling on that for the next few hours. It is infuriating that the NA Governments have not thrown full weight behind this and have it so readily and rapidly available to every corner of the populace.
    The conspiracy theorist in me wants to think that it is Big Pharma lobbying and denying this solution for the good of the world. All this, by the way, while I’m very happy that Big Pharma produced the vaccines so rapidly.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Kenora Ken – Yes, I know what you mean. In the very early days of this there was an epidemiologist at Harvard or somesuch who argued that although PCR tests catch infections that rapid tests miss, those extra cases are no longer infectious. I don’t know the rights/wrongs of it, but he figured we should all have a kit of rapid tests we could use before going anywhere. It sure seemed to make sense . . .

  4. barbara carlson says:

    “The free market for test results will catch up with these requirements, I have no doubt. Next year I expect we’ll have oodles of options for a fast test.”

    They will be $1 at the Dollar Store, like pregnancy tests. (work with me. :D)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – 🙂 Or as Kenora Ken notes, maybe rapid tests will be available everywhere. We can hope. While we’re, you know, achieving equanimity.

  5. Just stay home. 🙁

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Yeah no. I’d just stay in Canada but some of the family has washed-up in Colorado recently; hence the navigation of testing regimes in two countries.

      • If “washed-up in Colorado” is like “busted flat in Baton Rouge,” I hear you can flag a diesel down. Maybe that branch of the family could make their way north? And those truckers seem to make it over the Canadian border, no problem, pandemic or not.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Laurna – <> And sing the blues, I guess. 🙂 Road travel south is still a no-no so air it is for now. We’ll see how it goes . . .

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