A Firsthand Account of What It’s Like to Be Tested for COVID-19
EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the firsthand account of what it is like to be tested for the coronavirus in Erie County, NY. This might not be indicative of what testing is like in your area.
I started to get sick a week ago.
It started with a slight cough, then a low-grade fever that's still hanging on. Those are two of the signature symptoms of Coronavirus, specifically COVID-19. Coupled with my recent travel to NYC, I called my doctor to see if I could get tested.
So if you think you need to be tested, here's what to do and how the process goes, based on my experience with it.
First, you should call your Primary Care Physician (PCP). If you do not have a PCP, an urgent care doctor will be able to order a test as well. This is important -- you will not be able to get a test by calling the Erie County Department of Health directly. The order for a test must come to their attention from a physician.
Usually within 24 hours after the doctor submits your name to the Department of Health, you'll receive a call about where and when to get tested. I was given a location in Lancaster and a one-hour window to appear for the test.
The location for drive-thru testing (where you never exit your vehicle) was a fire station. When you drive up, there is law enforcement and medical personnel on site to check you in (or turn you away if your test kit has not been ordered by a doctor first).
After they verify your ID and personal information, you are given your test kit and asked to drive up to the medical professionals collecting samples.
The test is a nasal swab and is administered by the medical staff on site. They are fully gowned, gloved, and wearing masks and eye protection. The swab has to go up pretty far, and I'm pretty sure I saw God for a hot second.
I can't lie -- the whole scene feels scary and apocalyptic. However, the staff was really friendly and caring, and considering what they are going through -- I wouldn't have held anyone's attitude against them. But all the workers were handling the process very well, and the whole test took less than 15 minutes from driving in, to driving out.
I was told I would be called with my results in 24-48 hours.
If you think you should be tested -- and I can't stress this enough -- call your doctor. If you have questions for the Department of Health regarding coronavirus, they have set up a really helpful website FAQ here.