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Herald editor recounts test

It wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that great either.

The COVID-19 pandemic became very real Sunday morning when I took part in the free testing at the Mower County Fairgrounds.

By the end of the day, 888 tests would be conducted with a two-day total coming to 2,059.

Austin Daily Herald editor/photographer Eric Johnson takes his turn being tested during this weekend’s two-day testing at the Mower County Fairgrounds. His test came back negative for COVID-19.

Both me and my girlfriend signed up not long after the announcement last week, not because we needed it, but because we thought it was the right thing to do.

Both of us were symptom free and on Tuesday we both found out we were negative for COVID-19.

This whole process didn’t get real until we were on the way to the testing. Turning into the northernmost entrance, we were one of the earliest and to be honest, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.

Not necessarily because of the possibility of having COVID-19 and all that it would entail — best case two weeks of isolation with minor symptoms, worst … well, I think we all know — but there was the thought that either we hadn’t shown yet or we were asymptomatic. We would never show the symptoms and may never get sick, but that we could have shared it with others who in turn got sick.

That’s the part that has been laying heavy on my mind since registering. The idea that I have been walking around, handing out COVID-19 to whoever I come in contact with and not ever knowing despite social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing and whenever possible staying in.

Early on, officials were hopeful that the entire process would take just 15 minutes and I would be surprised if we were there for 10 minutes.

We drove through easily enough, having pre-registered, and soon were waiting for our turn with the swab.

I’m the nervous sort anyway, but I found myself growing just a little more anxious as we waited. Finally, it was our turn and right from the beginning I have to explain how reassuring the medical staff were.

The first gentleman explained the process easily, smoothly and in great detail and then later proceeded to line dance to the radio that was playing as he waited for the next vehicle.

I don’t say this to make fun of him, but there is something reassuring about somebody dancing in the middle of pandemic testing. Some may see this as not being serious about the situation, but I chose to see it as a much needed lighter moment in the middle of said pandemic testing.

Then the nurse came to give me my test, explaining what was going to happen and how it might feel, only to finish up with, “and remember, don’t cry.” She said this because I was having my photo taken and realized the importance of looking as good as one can with a swab up their nose.

Ultimately, she was right when she explained that it would cause some itching and may feel like it’s burning.

I’m not going to lie, it was really uncomfortable, as the picture clearly illustrates.

Was it bad? Not really, but it wasn’t good either; however, it was fast. A couple twists and she was done and we were on our way and, I have to say, feeling better.

Test results would come between 48-72 hours, even though my results came Tuesday morning, just under the 48 mark.

Even after our experience, the importance of being tested is not lost, and regardless of how our tests would have come out, it remains the right thing to do.

From this weekend, 2,022 tests are in with 38 coming back positive. While in the grand scheme of the numbers, 38 out of 2,022 tests to come back is low, it doesn’t change my thinking that  I would gladly go through this again if it meant being able to properly help contact trace and to get a better handle on the spread of coronavirus.

It may have been a bit nerve-wracking not knowing what the near future held, but I at least will have a piece of mind one way or another.