According to the authorities, there were 16,563 new cases of COVID-19 last Thursday in Indiana. I was one of them.
Like many Americans, I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know who to trust. When I got the text, I left the event I was at and went home.
I could go in for a second test to confirm, but that’s not what’s recommended . I only have one symptom (headache), but there are so many officially listed  that it would be surprising if I didn’t have one. The guidance from the CDC is that I isolate for five days, and then reevaluate .
In the meantime, almost everyone I talked to in the days before doesn’t cross the official threshold for “close contacts” so it’s not clear how I got COVID . Or even, given the false positive rate of the tests, if I really do have it at all .
What I am supposed to do? Right now, 16,000 of my fellow Hoosiers are making this same decision. They are balancing how sick they feel versus their need to work and earn a living. They are calculating the number of days they have remaining and scrambling for masks and medication. They are digging through medical studies and conflicting press reports, trying to make sense of the news they just received. And they are telling others—or not telling them—that they had a positive test.
As for me, I am going stay home. I am cancelling appointments and pulling back from campaigning and other work. That’s always the safest thing to do if you might be sick and might be infectious—if you can do it.
But not everyone has that option. And even those that do, many aren’t so sure about what the government and media are saying. Which leaves most Americans in the same place we have been for almost two years: unclear about the nature and scale of this pandemic, the effectiveness of the interventions, and wondering what incentives and motivations are getting in the way of the truth.
Without trust, there is no way forward. There is only retreat into the relatively safety of isolation. Which, for the next five days, is what I suppose I will do.