Editor’s note: This editorial expresses the views of the Log Cabin Democrat. The editorial board is composed of Frank Leto, Jeanette Anderton and Alex Kienlen.

The Log Cabin Democrat encourages everyone to be safe on the Memorial Day holiday.

In addition to the usual “Don’t Drink and Drive” and “Wear Your Seatbelt” warnings, we remind readers to practice social distancing when possible and to wear masks when it’s not.

As families and friends gather for cookouts and other traditions, hopefully in groups of 10 or fewer, take a moment to honor the fallen soldiers for which the holiday was created. They gave their lives fighting for our freedom. We should do our part to remember and honor their sacrifice, and we should do so safely. Please enjoy the following column by Alex Kienlen, who shares a first-hand account of being tested for the novel coronavirus.

Report from the front lines: I was tested for COVID-19

By Alex Kienlen

On Tuesday, May 19, I was tested for COVID-19, one of several thousand Arkansans tested that day.

I’d had a sore throat since Sunday evening, it wasn’t getting any better. I called the Faulkner County Health Department on Monday afternoon. A cheerful young lady answered the phone, got my information and asked if I wanted to come by right away.

“No,” I said and was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

“Just drive up,” she said, “you’ll be able to stay in your car and they’ll be right there ready for you.”

Tuesday, appointed time, at the health department. Orange cones in the parking lot pointed me toward a table. Two ladies were there setting up signage. It turns out the health department had only started offering drive-up testing that Monday. The table was there by the curb. I was the only car behind the cones.

A nurse came out, mask in place, looked at the papers, made sure I was me, and got me ready to do the test.

Frankly, I’d been dreading it, horror stories, and some pictures, of PPE-clad nameless shoving swabs up peoples noses, it didn’t look like fun. I expected the worst. I was wrong.

She handed me a paper packet, the swab, and a small vial with a screw-on top. No scuba-suit stranger, I was, it turned out, the one who was going to do the swab-sticking. Before handing over the instructions.

She gestured with the packet.

“Put this up in your nostril, hold it in there for 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds is about the length of a chorus to a song, so just think of a song you like and sing the chorus to yourself. Then do it again for the other nostril, 15 seconds.”

Now the vial.

“When you’re done, but the swab part in here, you’ll have to break off the stick at the little serration here [a small groove cut in the swab stem], screw the top on and you’re done.”

She was oddly cheerful for someone asking a stranger to stick things up his nose. She handed the two items, swab and vial, over to me.

No big deal. Seriously, I hope you understand this: No big deal. Instead of the song thing I looked at my watch while 15 seconds clicked off, the second nostril, 15, vial, snap at serration, and hand back the vial and the now half-stick and empty wrapper.

She remained cheerful, a manner which can only be expressed by exclamation points.

“OK, Mister Alex, they’ll call you back in three to five days! Thank you!”

Car in gear, follow the orange cones out, that was that. It takes longer to get a latte at the drive-thru.

It’s Friday morning. I haven’t heard back from the lab. I was assured a nurse will call me, and if they get my voicemail, leave a non-descriptive message. If I had to guess, I’m fine. The sore throat hasn’t gotten any worse, and I’m otherwise still the same picture of health I was at this time a week ago.

But this, this I can tell you: Getting tested is no big deal, at all. In fact a friend was tested the next day and reported the same experience.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has called for 60,000 tests in the state in May, and that anyone exhibiting any symptoms, or has been in or around anyone exhibiting symptoms, should be tested. As a member of the 60,000 I can tell you: Keep a song in your heart and you won’t even have to get out of your car.

No big deal, at all.

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