I’m in the club now. I got tested for COVID-19, and the experience was exactly as disconcerting as feared. The man in the mask, gown, gloves and face shield brandished a swab that looked long enough to roast a marshmallow over a campfire. He deftly snaked it up my nostril, through my brain and out my ear. 

It was deep and uncomfortable — and thus exactly like the test the virus is administering to American society. My personal result was negative. It remains to be seen what our collective outcome will be.

Over the next several months, the answers to some key questions will be revealed. What is America’s tolerance for death versus continued inconvenience? Has COVID-19 fatigue rendered us emotionally immune to the horrific and still rising toll? 

What value do we place on protecting those most vulnerable? Enough to do sufficient testing to understand which senior care facilities are most at risk due to the rate of spread in their surrounding communities? Enough to help identify the many asymptomatic positives who could be unwittingly spreading the virus as staff?

As citizens and long-term care employees, how much will we continue personally sacrificing to keep other people safe? Will we still wear those uncomfortable masks in public places because it’s the right thing to do? When we know we’ll be caring for seniors in the morning, are we willing to forgo tonight’s trip to the popular bar that just reopened? 

As facility leaders, will we help our staff stay vigilant in their personal lives, even as fatigue understandably settles in? Are we doing everything possible to remind them of the implications every choice still has for those they care for? 

Are we willing to accept that this ordeal isn’t over and won’t be for a long, long time?

As a society, that ghastly swab has been twirling in our noses for several months. It’s been deep and uncomfortable. But have we learned anything?