HIST30060: Negative Test Result

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HIST30060: Negative Test Result

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This is a screenshot of a negative PCR test result from August 2020. At this time, test results would typically take 24 hours to process, with the government requiring that the patient isolate until they received the result of their test.

I, like most residents in Melbourne, suffered a profound emotional impact from the bombardment of public messaging about the pandemic. The advertising campaigns by the state government as well as opinions expressed on social media suggested that a failure to follow health protocols would result in tremendous negative effects. For example, failing to get tested could be the reason that someone's grandmother died from exposure to the pandemic. With such high stakes attached to my everyday behaviour and compliance to health orders, whenever I felt even slightly unwell, it would trigger a barrage of intense anxiety. The health order to self-isolate for a week after a positive test result, as well as the Andrews governments' policy of reopening contingent on the number of positive test results in the community, further increased anxiety around any form of cold symptoms.

To the day, this image evokes feelings of fear and relief. Something so mundane as a text message represented either a ticket to freedom or a binding health order. In this case, the text message represented a reassurance that my sickness was the regular, boring sort, and that I was not an accidental killer of grandmothers. It represents the use of everyday technology, both sophisticated and mundane, in the pandemic response.

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This item was submitted on October 26, 2022 by Margaret Chambers using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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