ELKO – Have you ever had an insect fly up your nose? COVID-19 testing was a bit like having a rather “big bug” make its way into the back of my nasal passage and kind of squirm around a bit.
Prior to taking the drive-up test Wednesday, I was escorted by smiling Army National Guardsmen who were giving their time to help during this crisis, all the while standing outdoors at the Elko Convention Center parking lot on a fairly warm day in personal protective equipment.
After answering a few questions through my cloth mask and having my temperature taken several times, I nervously proceeded through an orange cone-lined route to another checkpoint and then to the testing station.
Not many people can pull off a great sense of style in blue hazmat gear, but Reno National Guardswoman Janice Bonds looked like a million bucks behind her face shield. She handed me a sterile tissue and directed me to blow my nose.
Bonds pulled out a cotton swab that my anxious brain “insisted” was the size of a baseball bat. She inserted it and, to my surprise, within a few seconds the slightly annoying sensation disappeared.
I felt much better knowing I was helping authorities gather data to better understand how the disease is operating in Elko. I was told I would receive my results by email or phone within 72 hours.
Why was I taking the test? I don’t feel sick. In fact, I have never felt better, except for that deep-gnawing anxiety that many of us have experienced since the pandemic began. I took the test for three reasons: I care about my community, I want to help others who are fighting against this disease, and I worry about my own health.
Since the beginning, I have been trying to do my best to help slow the spread of COVID-19. I wear a mask when I have to get groceries. I stand six feet or more from everyone. I try not to touch anything in a public place unnecessarily. But, what if I slip up and I am an asymptomatic carrier? I would never want to give anyone this disease, especially a vulnerable person.
There are a number of health and other essential workers who have continued serving the public throughout this crisis, because that is what they do. There are people in my community who are really struggling with income loss and uncertainty. There are other citizens who have stepped up to become leaders or extend their leadership during this time. I want to contribute to the data that can assist them all in helping our community move forward.
I have asthma and since the virus began ravaging our country I have wondered what might happen if I get sick. Will I live? Will I die? Will I jeopardize others, including my family and co-workers?
I felt relieved as I drove away from the testing site. The entire process was run with military precision. I felt safer there than I have anywhere during my entire lockdown experience.
“One thing we are looking for is to gather different data so that we know how the virus affects our community,” said Amanda Osborne, Elko County director of human resources.
According to Osborne, 275 Covid-19 tests had been taken as of Wednesday afternoon, the first day of a four-day community-based testing strategy. Elko County received 3,000 test kits and residents are encouraged to go online to register for free or simply drive to the site at the ECVA during testing times.
Osborne said the National Guard, the Department of Emergency Management and the Elko Covid Response Team have been organizing and carrying out the testing. Members of the National Guard drive the completed tests to the Nevada State Public health Lab in Reno on a daily basis.
The county expects results within two or three business days, Osborne said. They will need some time to process the data, but when it is compiled it will help local officials make important decisions on their own about continuing the opening process and stimulating the local economy.
“We would like to see as many people as possible take advantage of this process,” said Elko County health officer Dr. Bryce Putnam.
According to county officials, all information that is gathered is confidential. The only information that will be shared are the statistical numbers associated with testing.
Go ahead, take the test. I did.
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