Lots of asymptomatic people get tested. I got tested before a family gathering last summer (the whole family did), as well as after a possible exposure at work. A friend of mine gets rapid-tested twice a week when he goes to see his mother in a memory care facility. A colleague of mine revealed on a (Zoom) practice group meeting that she was joining us from a hotel in Mexico because she was stuck in quarantine in her room after testing positive. She had to test to return to the U.S., and surprise!
And pre-vaccine, my stepmother died of COVID in April 2020. After Dad dropped her at the ER and called to tell me what had happened, I was terrified that my 79-year-old, asthmatic father would get it, because surely he would be a goner. It was NY, and no tests were available for asymptomatic people, but on medical advice he didn’t set foot outside his apartment for 14 days. He never developed symptoms, but months later, he got tested for antibodies as part of an unrelated medical appointment, and surprise! He had them. If my (then) 79-year-old asthmatic father could have an asymptomatic COVID infection, anyone can.
Right now I am feeling pretty good about my neurosis level, which is pretty high. The only socializing we have done has been outdoors, except we had my (vaccinated) mom over for Mother’s Day during that fleeting moment when it seemed like that might not be insane. We’ve had a couple of backyard bonfires where we will let friends (all of whom are vaccinated) into the house to use the bathroom if needed, masked, but that’s about it. We have some pretty hardcore air filtration built into our HVAC system because of my crappy lungs, so it’s safer in our house than in most 100-year-old houses.
Then an old friend flew in from Taiwan over the holidays with his family to see his dad, who lives not far from us, and they invited us over for New Year’s Eve. I thought about it for half a second - small gathering, everyone fully vaccinated except his daughter (they aren’t vaccinating kids that age in Taiwan yet, but they got her a first shot of Pfizer while she was here), and they were coming from one of the most vaccinated places in the world and would have to test negative right before flying in. Ultimately I decided to stick to outdoor socializing and invited them over for a backyard bonfire. We plugged in a coffee urn full of spiced cider and hung out until everyone was frozen.
Right after New Year’s, everyone on their household got sick, which meant we would have been there during their infectious period. All tested positive for COVID. (My friend thinks his stepmom was Patient Zero.) They had to delay their return trip for a week. Given that this risk calculator from the Cleveland Clinic predicts that someone with my risk profile would have anywhere from a 7% to a 20% risk of ending up in the hospital if infected, I’m glad we stuck to our guns about indoor socializing, especially without masks.