COVID-19 test kits are slowly reaching more city health departments. Tacoma, WA received 1,000 kits from FEMA, but these will not be made available to the general public. The testing is for workers in health care, public safety and critical infrastructure. The one caveat is high risk people who are 60+ years old with existing medical conditions can also qualify for testing. The process is already full and taking place near the Tacoma Dome from 3/20 – 3/22.
Not only do you need to be essential to infrastructure, but you also need a medical providers recommendation to be tested. There is a short survey that must be filled out before testing that focuses on symptoms and occupation:
shortness of breath
My girlfriend and I have been symptomatic for the last week. She works in health care and qualified to be tested which means I get to indirectly find out if I too am positive for COVID-19.
The approach to the Tacoma Dome was over half a mile of blocked of roads and police verifications. You quickly get used to cracking the window just enough to hear the voice of the person on the other side and pressing ID cards up to the window to verify who you are for the appointment.
After three ID checks we were actually driving inside the Tacoma Dome and were given a short consent form that needed to be verbally acknowledged. At this point the car window needs to be fully rolled down and the person administering the test who is in a bunny suit with faceshield asks my girlfriend to blow her nose into a handkerchief (which she keeps). The next part is the hard part. My girlfriend is asked to sit on her hands and resist any temptation to interrupt the nasopharyngeal swabbing process. A long thin plastic q-tip instrument is inserted deep into her nose and behind it to obtain a sample from the nasopharynx (a painful process). It takes less than 20 seconds to obtain a sample. Results take 4-6 days.
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