By Lexi Kupor
Kupor: What were the signs you first experienced that made you consider taking the steps to get tested?
Student: Right before the school shutdown, that week on Wednesday, I started feeling really hot and I was sweating a lot. When I got home, I took my temperature and I had a fever – not super high, but I had a fever – and I don’t get fevers often. I decided I would just stay home and rest and see [what happened], and then later that night I started getting a really bad cough, but to me it still felt like a regular sickness. But with everything that was going on with the virus – the next day, I wasn’t improving and I was getting worse – my parents decided to just call my doctor and see what they could do…they said that with everything going on they wanted to go ahead and screen me and just see if it was something I needed testing for, and of course testing wasn’t readily available at that point.
They screened me, and since I had a really bad cough and fever, they said that they wanted to go ahead and test me. At that point, testing wasn’t super easy because there [weren’t] that many kits available…it was mostly just testing at hospitals, so they told me to self-quarantine at home. Actually, I got lucky because my doctor happened to be one of the first private practices that was able to get the kits. I got a call back two or three days later that they did have the kits…so I went and I got the testing on Friday.
K: How long did it take to hear back about your results?
S: I got the testing on Friday, so then the labs were closed over the weekend. I was supposed to find out early that week, but the labs were incredibly backed and up and I wasn’t necessarily super high up on the priority list because I was young and I wasn’t having any breathing issues. So I didn’t even find out until almost a week and a half later, and then luckily it was negative, but until I found out, I had to continue self-quarantining.
K: Why do you think you were able to access the test when services and supplies have been so limited?
S: Honestly, I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with the connections my doctor had, because in general, my doctor’s office was one of the first [places] that had testing available that wasn’t a hospital or emergency care…at that point, that was super rare.
K: Were there any other concerns besides your symptoms? Did you know that you had contact with anyone that was at risk or had been traveling?
S: I do volunteer at Good Sam, and there have been patients at Good Sam who had the virus. That week was the week I decided to stop attending, and then the program eventually got shut down…Good Sam was the first place to get the patient in Santa Clara County [who tested positive], so I had been exposed at the hospital since January.
K: What was the testing experience itself like?
S: It was pretty horrible…It’s a nasal swab…It wasn’t fun because they go really deep in the nose, and I was crying and my nose was bleeding, and then it was sore for a few days after, so the testing itself wasn’t fun.
K: Could you tell when you went to get tested how bad the situation was getting?
S: They had me come after hours, and I wasn’t even allowed into the doctors’ office, so my doctor actually came outside and met me in the parking lot, and then he wore a hazmat suit. I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, and he wouldn’t even come that close to me. I kind of realized [that] this is pretty serious. The day that I actually got tested, there were quite a lot of people there…they had us all scattered through the parking lot standing at least six feet apart from each person, and then we all had to wear masks. It was a pretty serious situation.
K: What was your living situation like while you were waiting [for results]?
S: Honestly, it was horrible because it was kind of like a waiting game. At first, it wasn’t that bad but then I kind of just wanted to know either way, if I have it or I don’t, so I could move on. At home, I basically just stayed in my room all day with the door shut, and I couldn’t go near my sister at all, or my dad. My mom was the one who was closest in contact with me because she still had to help me with food and stuff. I would go downstairs to eat, but nobody else would be around me while I did, and I would just come right back up to my room…I was going completely stir crazy…I’m really close with my family, too, and especially my sister, so it sucked that I couldn’t go hug her. I couldn’t even really talk to her. If I were to come back positive, they would’ve tested everyone in my family.
K: Do you think your experience has changed how you’re reacting to the current regulations we’re going through and your outlook on the current situation as a whole?
S: It kind of helped me realize…there’s not much that the government or officials could be doing in this situation…but just how sad it is that there’s so many people out there who definitely had worse symptoms than I did…and that they wouldn’t be able to get testing at all. I felt like since there were so many warning signs that the government would’ve had something to be ready faster…It was circulating for a while before it started getting to people around here, so we had time to prepare. I got really lucky in terms of testing, but there’s a lot of people in the whole nation who really need testing and who can’t have any access to it for a while.