Covid-19 testing in America is a mess. The first positive case of Covid-19 in Chicagoland was identified in late January. Fast forward to 7 months later, and it seems nothing had been learned and even less accomplished. I assumed getting tested would be easy, and getting the results even easier. I could not have been more wrong.
August 21, 2020, my children were at their dad’s house. My daughter called me to say that my son was not feeling well and had a low grade fever. I told her to watch it and check back in with me. My son remembers feeling suddenly very hot and just wanting to sleep. He has very little recollection of that weekend. My daughter continued to check his temperature which was up to 104 in a matter of an afternoon.
I was in contact with my ex-husband who left work and took the kids to the Illinois Department of Public Health free testing center. Our first thought was not Covid-19. I wasn’t feeling great, but I was better than the day before so I figured we were all getting seasonal allergies or maybe colds. The three of them went to the testing center. At this point, my daughter and ex were asymptomatic. They spoke to the nurse or doctor at the testing site about quarantining. The person who administered the test said they didn’t think it was Covid so they should be fine. This was a Friday. They received their positive tests on Monday.
I had felt much better over the weekend. I had done a couple of short runs, and the weather had been hot. I was tired, but nothing out of the ordinary for someone with autoimmune diseases. On Monday, my ex called to inform me that they all received positive test results. I realized that I needed to get tested, and quickly. I texted a friend who recommended a couple of places. I was hoping for a rapid test. My first stop was an immediate care in my town. They were out of tests. I went to a drug store in my town and they would not test me because I didn’t have a fever. I should mention that this fell right during the time the CDC decided to announce that there is no need to get tested for Covid just because you have been exposed. (They backtracked on this later, thankfully.) I drove to another immediate care in the city of Chicago and they were out of tests. I was told at both immediate cares to come back the next day, but around 6am, to “get in line”.
I was started to really get concerned. Chicago is not exactly a small, remote town. One would think tests would be readily available. I finally headed to another drug store in Chicago. I was concerned about how long the results would take, but they told me 2-4 days. This still seemed crazy to me, but it was the best shot I had so I had the test done. Well, I actually did the test to myself. I drove into the pharmacy drive thru where I was greeted by a nurse on the other side of the window. She passed me a testing kit and walked me through the process of doing the brain scrape … on myself. The test was definitely uncomfortable, but easy to follow. I put everything back into the testing kit and passed it back.
This was a Monday. I would not receive my results until Friday morning. I chose to quarantine all week, but by the time the results came, I was already very sick.