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My first attempt to be tested for COVID-19 failed

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One of the cover stories in this week's Tracy Press got me thinking. Go read it now if you like; there's a link below.

Bob Brownne, our longtime sports editor, has tracked the COVID-19 numbers much as he would game stats and scores since the local quarantines began. In the past few weeks, the county and the state have both seen a rapid rise in positive test results and, troublingly, hospitalizations.

I can attest to a rising demand for testing here, at any rate. Let me tell you the story of my week.

It started Monday afternoon. I sneezed. Then, as I left the office, I noticed the beginnings of a sore throat. That night, I had a headache, felt congested, turned in early.

No big deal; summer colds happen. Right?

To be on the safe side, I checked with a doctor, who happens to be my younger sister. I trust her public health training and her medical experience, and most of all her good common sense.

She agreed it was probably a cold. Then she told me to work from home for a couple of days. And get a test for COVID-19.

That’s how I came to join the line of cars outside the community testing site at McKinley Elementary School on Tuesday morning. I guessed there were 10 or so people ahead of me.

I was wrong. The line of cars, I gradually learned, loops around like the lines for the better rides at certain amusement parks. You only realize how long it is when you’re committed.

More than two sweltering hours later, I had to bail. Who knows why so many people were there that day, but based on the numbers in Bob’s story, I’m less surprised now than I was then.

On Wednesday, feeling better and only slightly stuffy, I dawdled less over breakfast and arrived before the gates opened. It was still a longish wait, and a few people behind me — a mustachioed man in a pickup and a squirming young family in an SUV — eased out of line and squeezed between a Jeep and a Prius to escape. But finally it was my turn.

The infamous nasal swab test — one co-worker calls it a “brain tickle” — was administered through the open window of the car.

The closest analogy in my experience is the burn of chlorinated water up the nose when you hit the pool wrong, but more intense. My left eye watered desperately, and the face I made — well, the person who took my insurance information laughed out loud. (So did I.)

It faded within minutes, though. And it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

I’ll have results next week, or maybe the week after. Until then, may you all be well.

Managing editor Melanie Smith can be reached at msmith@tracypress.com. She welcomes news tips and book recommendations.

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