John shows you what it's like to get a coronavirus test

It's easy to get tested -- for free -- in Seattle now. Here's what it's like to get your brain tickled by a very long swab

June 15, 2020
The coronavirus testing site in SODO

I took it myself

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I wasn't feeling sick or anything.

But I knew that one of the tricky things about COVID-19 is that there are a lot of people who have the virus, but don't know they have the virus. They're asymptomatic, and yet they're spreading it everywhere they go. I didn't want to be one of those people.

So when the city of Seattle announced that it was offering free COVID-19 tests at two locations -- one on Aurora Avenue in North Seattle, and one south of downtown in the Sodo neighborhood, I went to the website and signed up.

I got a reservation for a couple of days later and showed up at the Sodo location. Both spots are former auto emissions testing sites. The whole process isn't that different from getting your car's smog checked, except instead of sitting in your car while they stick a sensor in your exhaust pipe, you sit in your car while a Seattle firefighter sticks a long swab up your nose. Twice.

The people working there are all great, by the way -- super friendly, professional, efficient, and compassionate. They seem to really appreciate the fact that to a lot of us, the whole thing is a little intimidating and even scary.

Once you get up to the testing spot, under the big roof, the swabbing procedure is quick and painless. Well, almost painless. Actually more weird than painful.

(Warning: If you don't want to look up my nose and see me getting swabbed, don't watch this clip:)

I drove off and hoped that my brain wasn't bruised by that swab. 

Twenty-four hours later, I used my phone to scan the QR code they gave me, and look -- no virus!

Test results


I was pretty sure I didn't have the virus, but I still felt a big wave of relief. It's good to know for sure.

I should say that when they started this program a couple of weeks ago, they were encouraging tests for pretty much anybody who wanted to get one, especially anyone who might have participated in a protest demonstration, where they'd have been crammed in closely with lots of strangers. The latest bulletin on the website says: 

  • If you live, work, or regularly visit Seattle​, and you are experiencing a symptom(s) of COVID-19 ​and/or​ you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19​ within the past 14 days, you can be tested for free.
  • If you attended large gatherings, you MAY have been exposed. You are strongly urged to get tested for COVID-19 if you develop ANY symptoms. Taking proactive steps to protect your health, such as wearing a mask, avoiding physical contact, and regularly washing your hands, can cut down on your risks of contracting the virus, even in large gatherings. 

So you decide if you really need a test at this point. I'm just here to tell you that it's easy to do and not as horrible as a swab wayyyyyy up your nose might sound.

Here's the website if you're interested.

Good luck! Stay safe! Wash your hands and wear your mask!


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