COVID-19 is here.
Many of my friends are frustrated at the lack of tests and some are afraid that they might get infected and be unable to get a test.
When my Facebook news feed showed an acquaintance who tested negative, I reached out to him about writing a blog post to help soothe the frustrations and fears that I’d been hearing about in recent weeks.
Roger (not his real name) was willing to be interviewed. He is 56 and lives in the Boston area.
With a history of pulmonary issues and initial coronavirus symptoms, his primary care physician submitted a referral request for the COVID-19 test. Because of this, Roger didn’t pay for it.
On March 17, 2020, he went to Boston Medical Center. It had a makeshift testing area in the lobby with a separate entrance.
Did you have to wait to take the test?
No. There was no wait and no line.
How was the test administered?
A nurse asked me some questions, then I had a brief consultation with a doctor, and then my nose was swabbed. It wasn’t a big deal. They stuck a Q-tip up my nose and twirled it around.
Are there different types of tests?
I’m not sure. I heard that people needed to take two separate tests – one for regular flu, and another for COVID-19. However, I only had one swab.
Were you afraid that you might test positive?
I wanted to test positive.
I was sick. My symptoms started five days before the test. I had a bad cough and a runny nose. That weekend, I developed a low fever, severe stomach ache, and vomiting. When I was tested, my temperature was 102 degrees.
That’s why I really wanted to be positive because if I wasn’t then I was more likely to catch the virus. My symptoms continued through last weekend, and I still have a cough and a runny nose.
How long did it take you to receive test results?
I had the test on March 17. Three days later, I received results for the regular flu. Three days after that, I received results for COVID-19.
Because everything was negative, there was no requested follow-up.
How did you feel afterwards?
I was anxious waiting for results. I was frustrated and a little nervous because whatever I had knocked me out for several days. If I didn’t have “the real thing” or even the flu, what would my next symptoms be like?
I read that false negative results are running as high as 20 percent. I am really hoping I am one of those.
Do people who are negative still need to be quarantined?
I don’t know. I wanted to self-quarantine. I’m still doing it.
I want to be symptom-free to prevent whatever I had from infecting other people. I also want to minimize my exposure so I don’t get infected with the virus.
Roger is not alone…
Since I reached out to him, I learned of other people (both 1st and 2nd degree connections of mine) who were also tested.
Many people are sharing their experiences on social media. For instance, here’s a running list of tweets with the phrase “got the covid test.” Searching for other keywords yields other results. Thankfully, it seems that a lot of people are now being tested.
As of March 30, over 42,700 people were tested in Massachusetts; and 87% tested negative. It’s unfortunate that the total tested represents 0.61% of the state population. I can only hope that as the virus continues to surge, and as tests and medical supplies continue to be made available, that more people will be tested and recover.