My Experience With COVID-19 Diagnostic and Antibody Testing
Our NYC-based editor's experience having and getting testing for the coronavirus.
The ever-elusive coronavirus has plagued our country for more than 6 months now. I myself live in Brooklyn, New York, a part of the country that has dealt with a massive majority of the country’s virus (even though this is quickly changing). When the virus first hit our city, we were not immediately quarantined. In fact, we left about a week or so in between our first cluster case in upstate New York and the capacity cap with restaurants and bars. On the first night of the cap, I went to my neighborhood bar (which is usually pretty empty) and had a drink or two with my group of friends. Little did I know that this was where I would (most likely) get the virus.
A few weeks ago, after participating in the first of many protests, I went to our neighborhood CityMD to get COVID-19 testing as well as antibody testing.
My Experience With Testing
In New York City, there are several locations where you can get tested for coronavirus for free. This actually includes antibody testing, which is incredible! Our state is doing close to 70,000 diagnostic tests per day, and we are slowly but surely on our way to containing COVID-19. Even yesterday, our governor announced that any visitors from states with rising cases would have to quarantine for 14 days. I waited in line for only about an hour and was in and out of the urgent care facility I went to.
For diagnostic testing, I was given my own swab to administer my test. A doctor in full PPE instructed me while I stuck this cotton swab into my nose. Just to let you know, it is so easy to do and takes five seconds. It does not hurt, at all. After this, she collected the specimen in a bag and then prepped me to do my antibody testing. Although highly contested, there is some early evidence that antibodies do in fact protect you from the coronavirus somewhat. This is still not making me change any of my behavior, as I want to protect my community. I am not taking any chances.
For antibody testing, it’s just like getting your blood drawn. A band is tied around your arm to find your biggest vein. They insert a small needle into your arm. A tiny sample of blood is then collected and sent to the lab for analysis. After my appointment, I filled out my information at the front desk and waited patiently for my results (3 to 5 days). I was sent an email alert that in fact confirmed I had coronavirus previously and was negative for the virus currently. While waiting for my results, I kept safe and quarantined.
On the night I mentioned earlier, I hung out with a small group of friends that frequented my neighborhood bar. The day after this, our governor announced the government shutdown. About two weeks later, I begin feeling extremely sick. I feel that gross feeling you have when you are first getting a major cold initially. This then progressed into a five-day headache (the worst of my life) and nausea. In between this, I did not want to eat, I could not smell, and I had hallucinations. A mile-high fever for a week straight and chills constantly as well. It definitely did not feel like the flu, so I quarantined for 14 days after I felt my symptoms. During this time, widespread testing was not available in New York City. Even if you had the worst symptoms, you could not get tested.
After this time, I discovered that a few of my friends had gotten tested that were in fact there the night of the capacity limit at bars and restaurants. They also had the virus! Now that we have widespread testing, an incredible amount of contact tracers, I feel that New York City is finally returning to normal. For months, we’ve been inside, passing freezer trucks full of bodies near hospitals, and experiencing the worst of this virus. I would recommend that everyone wear a mask at all times around others, and please be safe! This is how we have gotten where we are in New York City. Please stay vigilant!