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Re: COVID-19 testing

From: fischersfritz
Subject: Re: COVID-19 testing
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2021 12:56:37 +0000

jahoti writes:
> what exactly are the pharmacies asking you to do when they
> "require you to run proprietary software"?

Dear jahoti,

Here are what I have tried so far.

Rite Aid runs proprietary software and requires a Google account.
I called and confirmed that this is the only way.

My local pharmacy runs proprietary software on a smartphone, only.

CVS runs proprietary JavaScript. CVS also requires a car, and
while I am sure I could buy an old car with no proprietary software,
I don't care to get a driver's license. Easier would be to hire a taxi.
But all of these options were so ridiculous that I didn't care to check
for alternative scheduling.

Walgreens too runs proprietary JavaScript on the website, and
I couldn't find a telephone number to see if it was possible
to schedule by telephone. There are no Walgreens near me, so
I did not care to look for the telephone number to figure out
if there are alternatives.

Some at-home tests require a smartphone. For example, I saw someone
use a test that comes with an object that communicates results
(by Bluetooth I imagine) to a smartphone only, rather than displaying
them on the object directly.

I asked some locals who pay attention to software freedom and learned
that some at-home tests do not require a smartphone, such as BinaxNOW.
Unfortunately, I need the test for a special doctor's appointment, and
my doctor's office won't accept at-home tests.

The context of this doctor's appointment could be interesting. I had
originally postponed this appointment because of the difficulty in
scheduling a COVID-19 test, thinking that the policy might some day
change so that proof of vaccination would suffice. The policy did indeed
change, and then I scheduled the test, but then the policy changed back,
and the doctor's office informed of this change only days before the
test. So I have since postponed the doctor's appointment again.

I tried pharmacies first because most doctor's offices don't have it, so
finding one that does the tests would be difficult. Unfortunately, there
is a different problem with doctor's offices: the time to receive
results. I guess they must use a different type of test, since they
usually say that results come in two to five days. This could be a problem
because the doctor that requires the test of me requires that the
test be taken no more than four days in advance, and also because
I found out about the requirement only three days in advance.

I did manage to get a COVID-19 test at an urgent care once, but that
time I was away with others, one person had a car, and we were willing
to drive like half an hour to an urgent care that took all of the
information in person. The staff probably ran proprietary software, but
they asked me questions, and I answered them verbally. Also, to check
my result, I called them on the telephone.

A related issue is that of text messaging. The proprietor of local
pharmacy said that it is fine if I have someone else register for me
but that the result will still be sent by text message.

CityMD said they didn't require a smartphone, but they said that you
need to receive text messages when there is a long wait, because this is
how they manage the waitlist. They don't accept appointments.

With the prevelant use of text message, I am concerned that perhaps
there could be a new difficulty that I had not foreseen. For example,
will the text message contain a link that needs to be opened with
a proprietary software (for example, JavaScript)? I had a similar issue
with the urgent care where I had my other COVID-19 test. I did not need
to get this test, but I got it at the insistance of associates whom
who wanted to be especially cautious. In this case it was fine that
I got the result only by telephone, but I am concerned at why I did
not get it by email, since the office told me that I would get the
result by email. I am concerned, thus, that a clinic may be able to test
me but still have trouble delivering proof of the negative result.

The proprietor of local pharmacy had some interesting comments.
She said they are using this bad system because of reporting
requirements that make for certain dis-services and proprietary
software to be the only practical approach. Since speaking with her,

I remarked that these requirements must be special to COVID-19,
so I think I'll call her again to find out why. Related, I am intrigued
also that pharmacies require clients to use software but urgent care
doesn't and why family doctors tend not to offer COVID-19 testing
at all.

The doctor's appointment for which I would need the test was going to be
tomorrow at 8 am. I have rescheduled this appointment to one month in
the future, and I am now contemplating two possibilites. I might do
both, in case one of them fails.

* Have someone with a smartphone schedule the appointment for me
  at the local pharmacy: The pharmacy is not willing to let me use
  one of its smartphones for this task, so I would try find a friend
  to do this.

* Go to CityMD first thing in the morning, clearing my schedule
  for the whole day in case I have trouble with the waiting list
  announcements by text message.

The other option is to postpone the special doctor appointment even
longer, until I don't need a COVID-19 test.


Fischers Fritz

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