I Was Tested For COVID-19 — And I Lived To Tell About It
GEORGIA — Now that Gov. Brian Kemp has opened COVID-19 testing for everyone, you may be wondering — what’s the test like? How difficult is it to get an appointment? Does the test hurt?
I had all of these questions answered for me earlier this week when I took the test myself, courtesy of the Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Health Department.
Mind you, I hadn’t gone into uncontrollable coughing fits or collapsed into a puddle of my own mucus. However, I did wake up Monday morning feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, barely able to get out of bed.
With so much still unknown about the new coronavirus, I started wondering if perhaps I had it. Two friends, both in high-risk groups, already had been diagnosed with the virus. (Both recovered, by the way.)
And then I started worrying: Several factors put me in or near two risk categories, and I’m in close contact with relatives who are in one of the highest-risk groups, those older than 65.
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With so many questions and so few answers, I decided to call my local health department. I’m glad I did.
After a short time on hold, I was answered by an operator who asked me a few questions about my health. Once we decided testing was a good idea, she asked a few more questions so I could be identified — full name, address, phone number, make of car, that sort of thing — and then gave me an appointment for the next day at a drive-thru facility in Gwinnett County. I later received a text message reminding me of the appointment.
Once I arrived at the drive-thru facility (5 minutes late, by the way), I drove to the end of a line of cars supervised by a law enforcement official. It was the kind of line we’ve all seen by now in news reports, with nurses and technicians wearing personal protective gear, talking to drivers as they passed through.
The nurses confirmed who I was, then handed me a tissue so I could blow my nose. After waiting in line for a few minutes, I was instructed to drive my car under a canopy and turn off the ignition. A nurse then stuck a long cotton swab up one of my nostrils for 10 seconds, withdrew it, and then wished me well.
That was it. The test was hardly painful, at worst mildly uncomfortable. And it took no more than 15 minutes from the time I got into line.
Results would be available online in two days. If I tested positive, someone from the health department would call. So I waited in quarantine for two days, even from the people I live with. I also slept. A lot. Apparently, my body needed it.
I received the good news two days later: a clean bill of health, no COVID-19. The online portal was very easy to access either by computer or smartphone.
So what was causing me to feel like I’d been run over by a truck? I still don’t know. It might have been allergies. It might have been stress. It might just have been OLD Syndrome. (That’s a joke.)
Whatever it was, a few days of sleep helped immeasurably. So did the peace of mind that came from knowing I wasn’t carrying COVID-19.
If you have obvious symptoms — or even if you don’t and simply want to ease your anxiety — you should call your county health department and schedule a test. You’ll sleep better, and you’ll help Georgia track and contain the coronavirus as the state reopens for business.
A list of testing sites and contact information can be found here.