Welcome to the winter of our discontent. Over 500,000 new cases of covid-19 a day. More than 1,000 new deaths. Testing sites are backed up for days and the more convenient but less reliable at-home antigen kits have become all but impossible to get a hold of. Now even the patron saint of helping gamers find hard-to-get PS5s, Wario64, is sharing links for new rapid test inventory.
Last night, wedged in-between tips about discounted games and new incoming PS5 stock, the gaming mega account with over one million followers tweeted about new inventory at Walmart for the Binax at-home test kits. “Tests may have restocked in some regions,” he tweeted again a few hours later. While just a blip in Wario64’s super-posting schedule, it underlined just how much of a mess the U.S.’s response to the pandemic still is nearly two years in.
“Google it,” President Biden tweeted the same day in response to the growing frustrations with the country’s insufficient covid-19 testing capacity. Just a few weeks ago, after previously telling the American people that giving out free at-home tests was a preposterous idea, the Biden administration announced it would give out free at-home tests. We still don’t know when though. Or how many. Or even how to get them. You’ll have to sign up through a website, one which doesn’t currently exist.
For contrast, in countries like the UK it’s been possible to get free rapid lateral flow home-testing kits for the better part of a year, either directly from the government’s NHS site, or picked up for free from pharmacies. While there have been shortages of these in the last few weeks, it’s one workable alternative to those without symptoms clogging up PCR testing lines.
“The United States is great because instead of being able to rely on the government for COVID testing information you have to rely on the PS5 stock update Twitter account,” wrote one person on Twitter, a sentiment reiterated by hundreds of others.
That sort of gallows humor has been going on since at least April, however, when the satirical website Hard Drive published the mock article, “U.S. Government Reaches Agreement With Wario64 to Announce COVID Vaccine Availability.” Months later, vaccines are readily available for every adult who wants one, at least in the rich countries that have been hoarding them. But rather than deal with the ongoing public health crisis as it is, the White House has been content to tout the booming economy as it rushes everyone back to work amid the highest spike in infections since the pandemic began.
Building back better, baby.