As we approach the third week of the University of Georgia’s fall semester, it is seemingly becoming harder to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, Aug. 27, my roommate revealed she had been in contact with someone who was exposed to COVID-19. The person was awaiting their COVID-19 test results.
As a precaution on Thursday afternoon, we started calling and researching available slots for testing in Athens. The Bulldog Urgent Care, Peachtree Immediate Care and testing at UGA’s Legion Field were booked until Sept. 3 or 4. The testing sites would also force me to wait 3-5 business days to receive results. I contacted local drive-thru testing sites, CVS locations, Reddy Urgent Care and Piedmont Urgent Care, but none had any availability for the next few days.
My roommate went back to her parent’s home in Dalton — her mother works in the medical field and could administer a test for her. On Sunday night, my roommate confirmed that the person she was in contact with had tested positive for COVID-19.
My roommate was exposed to someone who has the virus, but I’ve only been in contact with my roommate. According to UGA’s exposure diagram and three of my professors, my experience did not align with the guidelines of what constitutes exposure to COVID-19.
Due to these guidelines on exposure, my professors told me to come to class even though I felt uncomfortable leaving my apartment. However, in my mind, if my roommate was exposed to COVID-19, and I was consistently near my roommate, if she tests positive, I could also.
Testing outside of Athens
I didn’t want to wait an entire week while attending in-person classes without having a COVID-19 test administered. On Aug. 31, I decided I couldn’t wait and checked urgent cares and clinics that had locations outside of Clarke County. Immediately, there were many more options and testing availability. I chose to get a Quidel Rapid Antigen test at Peachtree Immediate Care in Snellville. The testing location was 48.9 miles from my apartment in East Athens.
I chose an appointment time on the website for the next day, downloaded my photo I.D. and insurance card and waited for my confirmation email. Testing at Peachtree Immediate Care is a drive-thru testing site and done for symptomatic and asymptomatic people.
Rapid COVID-19 test procedure
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for antigen tests that can identify SARS-CoV-2. “Rapid antigen tests perform best when the person is tested in the early stages of infection with SARS-CoV-2 when viral load is generally highest,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I pulled into the parking lot of the Peachtree Immediate Care location and signed in at an adjacent tent. I waited behind a few cars for about 15 minutes before I reached the tent where they were administering the COVID-19 test.
Once I reached the tent, a woman took my temperature and asked if I was experiencing any symptoms. After I said no, she gently swabbed my nose with what appeared to be a very long cotton swab. She swabbed each nostril for three seconds and then asked me to continue onto the next tent. The swabbing felt uncomfortable but not painful.
At the next tent, I waited about 40-45 minutes to receive my test results. Fortunately, I tested negative for COVID-19. Another woman approached my car with a single piece of paper with my test results and her signature.
Then, I made the 67 minute drive back to Athens.