Tuesday May 10, 2022
My Voyage to Italy: Risultato del test
A few days before I flew to Florence, Italy, to spend two weeks in Tuscany with my wife and her family, a Trump-appointed U.S. district judge ruled that the Covid federal mask mandate for airlines and other modes of public transportation was unconstitutional. So the voyage was slightly different from what I'd anticipated. Only about 1/3 of the people at SeaTac Airport were wearing masks. Many on the flight didn't wear them. But there were still complications. About nine hours into the 10-hour flight to Paris, a Delta attendant told us, almost apologetically, that there were certain “red countries” where you have to wear a mask before arriving, and France was one of those, so please mask up for the last 40 minutes of the flight. It was like territorial waters for Covid.
U.S. policy at the moment seems kind of nuts to me. You don't have to mask up but you do have to present a negative Covid test before entering or re-entering the U.S.—regardless of vaccine status, regardless of citizenship. It's a policy that encourages both personal irresponsibility (mask schmask) and xenophobia (the problem is out there), and does nothing to clarify whether our pandemic is now an endemic. For Europe, the policy is the opposite: Come on in, just don't be an maskhole.
That U.S.-mandated Covid test loomed large during my trip. If I failed it, I'd be gone from work for five more days. Or 10 more days? Or more? How would that work? And how does one find a Covid hotel? And are you policed or can you still visit museums? Some part of me wondered whether I should try to get Covid early in the trip so I wouldn't have the problem later; so I wouldn't spend my vacation worrying about it.
To be honest, I probably should've gone maskless more often during that first leg of the trip—Seattle to Paris to Florence. That's a long slog. Add in extra hours at SeaTac, and the trip on light rail to SeaTac, and I was probably masked for nearly 20 hours straight, and during my last hour at CDG I think my own fumes were beginning to get to me. I felt nauseous. Even the usual standby of Coca-Cola and Pringles didn't help. When I finally landed in Florence, and we exited onto the Tarmac, I ripped that sucker off and breathed in deeply.
Anyway, all that masking helped. Or didn't—who knows? The day before we came back, we walked to a pharmacy near the Uffizi, paid 22€ apiece, got tested by a cute pharmacist with stylish brown ankle boots, waited outside for 20 minutes. Patricia got a cappuccino. Back at the pharmacy, they handed each of us a piece of paper folded into a little booklet: Certificazione verde COVID-19. It took a while to find the result—halfway down the second page: Risultato del test: Negativo. We celebrated. I complimented the pharmacist on her boots.