I felt like I was waiting in line to get into Six Flags. Nathalie Graham
There were 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in University of Washington fraternity members as of Monday. When I got my own nostril’s swabbed on Tuesday, the firefighter administering my test remarked that he’d had dozens of frat boys in his line that day.
“I had them on their knees,” he laughed, joking about how they couldn’t stand the discomfort from the swab.
I’d decided to get COVID-19 tested that morning for kicks (also peace of mind).
Finding a testing site was easy. As of June 6, after nearly a week of George Floyd demonstrations, Seattle opened up testing to anyone who wanted to get checked out. Previously, only symptomatic people could get tested. Seattle’s sites—one in SoDo, one up in the north end on Aurora—are free and don’t require insurance. King County has a list of places to get tested, too, but some require appointments or doctor referrals or insurance. Both have drive-thru or walk-up options.
The appointment page for the Seattle sites was booked solid every time I checked it. The key is that some people fail to show up for their appointments so time slots free up throughout the day. I refreshed the page constantly. Sometimes a spot would open and close in the time it took for me to enter my information (the reason for the visit, name, birth date, insurance information if you have it). I felt like I was waiting to pounce on concert tickets.
Eventually, I secured a slot. It was in Northgate in 15 minutes. The site recommended that I show up 10 minutes beforehand (fat chance) and reminded me to bring my photo ID with my birthdate. I flew out the door, hopped into my roommate’s car, and raced up to the car emissions inspecting station on 120th and Aurora Avenue where the tests were being administered. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot was on the radio.
I was waiting in one of the four lines of cars when my heart sank. I’d grabbed the wrong bag and forgotten to bring ID (don’t tell the cops about this). Literally the one thing I had to bring. I dug around and found my long-expired UW student ID and hoped that would work. The woman who checked me in laughed a little and said, “It’s fine,” when I explained. She gave me the vial my swab would go in and the information to check my results 24 to 36 hours later. TLC’s “Waterfalls” was on.
Finally, test time. A kindly firefighter decked in personal protection equipment, who called me “dear” in a way that warmed my heart, had me tilt my head back and to the side. “Are you ready? This is going to be so much fun,” he said, handing me a tissue. “Some people cry.”
He eased the thing into my nose, twisting and turning it as he went. Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” hummed in the background. It was a feeling like I had to sneeze but pinchier. I could feel it in my ears. Every time he’d turn one-way tears would eke out of my eyes. Then the same thing happened in the next nostril.
“You’re tough!” the firefighter said. I told him I’d tell my dad he thought so. Even though it looked like my brain is about to be sucked out with a straw, it wasn’t bad.
Overall, the process took me about an hour, and it took me 30 hours to get my test back. Both the wait time for the test and the results were on the longer end, according to other people I know who have been tested. I’ll blame the wait on post-Fourth of July panic or the Greek Row hotspot.
Either way, I’m COVID-19 negative and chilling now.