Long wait for COVID-19 test a reminder to be smart, safe

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STUCK IN LINE AT LOT J – I had to get a COVID-19 test and it was an awful experience.

I recently saw my brother-in-law for a few hours on a Friday night. We kept our distance, wore our masks, washed our hands and made sure to come into any kind of physical contact.

He was sent home from work three days later because a week prior – which was five days before he and I saw each other – he worked a full shift with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. He immediately informed me and my world turned upside down in a flash.

I have always been cautious about the virus, although in hindsight I shouldn’t have visited him that Friday night at all, but when you learn that you may be exposed to the virus, everything changes. He had been exposed to the virus for hours during his shift with the now-positive coworker. I was exposed to him for a few hours a couple days later. I called into question every possible exposure I might have brought into someone’s life, even though I wasn’t sure if I had the virus or not.

I thought about my grocery store visit that weekend, my quick trip to GameStop to pick up a weekend game, a gas station run to grab a Red Bull, the time I had spent around my wife: had I spread the virus?

That was the thought running through my head. It’s easy to forget about the way a virus can spread. It’s easy to feel safe when you don’t have it and you’re around others you know don’t have it but when it’s time to think about what a positive case for you might mean, all of the nameless faces you see on a simple grocery trip pop into your head.

After learning of my potential exposure and spending hours beating my brain over all of the people I might have come into contact with, I told my wife that she and I were getting up early to go to the Lot J public testing site at the jaguar stadium. My mom mentioned people were lining up as early 7 a.m. so I decided that we’d get there no later than 6:30 a.m.

There were 42 people already in line when we arrived at that time. The testing wouldn’t even begin until 9 a.m., so immediately I knew I was in for at the very minimum, two-and-a-half hours of waiting in my car. To make matters worse, I started doing some research about the. I watched countless videos of a hard nasal swab going into someone’s nose and nearly disappearing as it reached the far depths of the nasal cavity.

I spent the next two and a half hours in my car freaking out over how deep this swab was soon to go up my nose. There was not a moment during my wait where I felt relaxed. My wife did her best to calm my nerves but the damage was done: I saw the videos and I knew what I was about to go through, all because I wanted to see family.

The clock turned to 9 a.m. and the testing began. It took an hour to get through the 42 cars before us and when I finally pulled up to the actual test station at 10 a.m., much to my happy surprise, on this day the test was a throat swab. I had spent the past few hours fretting over a nasal swab that was never going to happen.

That’s not where the stress of this potential exposure to the virus ended though as I had to wait almost a week to get my results. I opened my results the morning of July 6 and learned that I had tested negative.

I could breathe.

Those nameless faces at the grocery store were no longer at risk of contracting the virus by my hands.

What’s the moral of the story here? It’s not worth it. Whatever time you think you need with a friend, or whatever non-essential good you think you need to pick up, isn’t worth it.

I spent the last seven days worried sick about a sickness, a virus that kills. I’m fortunate I no longer need to worry about it but now it’s on me to ensure I don’t experience this feeling again by being as cautious as I possibly can and implore you to do the same.

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