No Better Way? My Extremely Unpleasant COVID Test Experience
Let's get this out of the way up front. This article is not intended to criticize or politicize New Jersey or America's overall governmental reaction to trying to defeat COVID-19, i.e., getting vaxxed, boosted, wearing masks, etc.
Those all seem like fairly reasonable decisions to me and well within the bounds of an elected official to ask of his constituents given the circumstances.
Have some mistakes and miscalculations been made along the way? Absolutely.
We are still finding our way through uncharted waters. But, I think the decisions were almost entirely made with public safety in mind and not some ulterior motive or blind power grab.
Don't agree with me? I don't really care. Let's agree to disagree.
What I want to tell you about is my experience today getting a COVID test after a member of my family tested COVID positive.
Until now, we have been extremely fortunate to remain COVID-free in my immediate family throughout this two-year debacle. We were not untouched, however. Several aging relatives and friends have died from COVID-related problems. That really sucked.
Lately, infections have really escalated, though, and last week my daughters were exposed to someone at school who tested positive about the same time I had a traceable case tied to me.
Both of the girls were already dealing with common cold symptoms they had since to around Christmas but had tested negative for at the time. Some of their symptoms had lingered over the last two weeks. Primarily a cough and lots of nose blowing
After learning of the girls' exposure, my wife took them to get tested on Sunday, the first availability. We had tried unsuccessfully to find an at-home test for two or three days, but, due to the glut of infections, they were all sold out.
My wife and kids returned from the test Sunday afternoon with mixed news. Eileen had tested negative; Bridget had tested positive.
This is when I began to realize the confusion and upheaval a positive COVID test can bring to a family.
It just so happened that I had begun to feel some cold-like symptoms on Sunday -- a few aches and pains, a slight fever, and a little nasal congestion.
After hearing the girls' news, I made a call to my boss and we agreed that I shouldn't come to work on Monday or until I had a COVID test.
After doing some checking around, we decided to all get tested again at the Atlantic City Convention Center site Monday. Both Beth and I had gotten our COVID shots there and had been impressed with how it had been handled. I called the company running the tests Monday morning and was told they were giving both the rapid tests and the PCR tests.
We know things had changed the minute we drove up and realized we had to stand outside on a very cold day. If we chose to park in the Convention Center parking lot, which had been free for COVID shots, the cost would be $20. We parked on the street and stood in line outside with the other people.
After about half an hour we were taken into the lobby where a guy behind a folding table swabbed our noses and told us we were receiving the PCR test only and would get the results in 3 to 5 days. It turns out they were not offering the rapid test after all that would have told us positive or negative on the spot.
I have been reading about laboratory delays with PCR tests, sometimes extending the time before receiving your results to 7-10 days. My wife and I could not wait that long to find out about the test results.
We dropped the girls off at home and returned to the place where my daughters had been tested on Sunday, an urgent care on the mainland.
Again, we waited in the cold for about a half-hour before moving inside to an extremely crowded and cramped waiting room, full of people who were there because, like us, they thought they might have COVID.
The waiting continued for at least 90 minutes, in a space full of people coughing into their masks and many kids who had run out of patience long ago.
It was a claustrophobic and awful experience. I remember thinking that if I didn't have COVID when I arrived there, by now I certainly did.
Eventually, it was our turn to be tested and the completely overworked tester could not have been nicer and more professional.
We went back outside to wait for a short time for the results and returned to find that we were both.....
I am still feeling cold or flu-like symptoms, but I guess I will go back to work as soon as possible.
My daughter has to quarantine for about 12 days, according to school requirements. Her sister, who shares a room with her, is free to return to school immediately.
My wife, who is just recovering from cancer treatment, is left wondering what she should do to protect herself. Lately, she has taken to wearing a mask in the house and sleeping on the couch to get away from me.
There has got to be a better way.