Mobile testing facility at Mall

Sample center at the mall. 

The only fever I had felt over the past two weeks, since my staff mates and myself burrowed ourselves into our quarantined chambers, was cabin fever. Two Sundays ago, though, I started running a mild fever. I figured I just caught a chill from the run I took the previous day, but in this climate, I wasn’t ready to scoff at something like this.

When I heard about the new sampling center opening up at the Ithaca Mall I registered to get tested the day the news broke. A little after noon this past Thursday, I drove over to the mall to get tested.

The whole operation looked like a road test with hundreds of orange cones outlining the course. I pulled up to the entrance of the sampling center where I was greeted by a woman, who was decked out in the en-vogue COVID-19 gear – N95 mask, rubber gloves, isolation gown.

“You ready for COVID testing?” she said in a cheerful tone like it was an amusement park.

She then opened the gate to move on to the check-in point. Following the cones, I looped around and parked myself next to another woman in the same outfit. She asked for my driver’s license and my registration ID number, which you receive after filling out the online registration form. After a few more personal information questions, I was cleared and then guided by a couple of traffic directors to the lane where I would wait in line to get tested.

To pass the time, they suggest you tune into 96.3 FM to listen to a recorded broadcast where Dr. Lloyd Darlow calmly outlines the do’s and don’t’s as well as the overall testing process.

"This is Dr. Lloyd Darlow. On behalf of the Cayuga Health System and the Tompkins County Department of Health, welcome to our sampling center … During this process, remain in your vehicle at all times … Please follow the directional signs to help keep flow of traffic, so that we may attend to those that need assistance … Please respect the privacy of everyone. We ask that there be no videotaping or photography of your visit … From all of us at the Cayuga Health System and the Tompkins County Health Department, thank you for visiting our testing center …"

When it was my turn, I drove up and parked inside one of the large white tents where I was introduced to two doctors. One of them explained the testing methods: two 10-second nasal swabs—one in each nostril—and a throat swab.

I was then told to sit back and relax, which is utterly impossible when you know someone is about to probe your nostril with a stick. 

It was going to take anywhere from two to seven days for the results from the cultures. In the meantime, I waited in mandatory isolation until I got the call. Luckily, it took just two days for the doctors to get back to me, and thankfully the results came back negative.

It’s hard to believe I have to say this, but as of this moment, it’s still needed to be said: take this illness seriously. It’s already killed thousands and it’s still ramping upwards Even if you’re feeling the slightest of symptoms, get tested if you can.

That goes for everyone, but especially for younger individuals like myself (I’m 24). You’re not untouchable when it comes to a virus like this. Yes, the chances of you dying from the illness are slim, but, of course, there’s still a chance. A recent death of a 17-year-old from California was linked to COVID-19.

Almost two weeks ago, I tried talking one of my close friends, who’s in his 20’s, out of traveling down to North Carolina and staying in a cabin with some of his friends from school. He said he wasn’t worried about the virus because it “doesn’t really [affect] people our age.” 

I explained to him that even though he’s more than likely going to live and endure a mild case of it, if he were to contract COVID-19, he could still become infected with the virus, show no symptoms, and become a “carrier,” spreading it to those who are at most risk of dying from it (i.e. the eldery and people who have compromised immune systems). Yet, he said he wasn’t worried about that because those who are at high risk “have already been taking precautions for stuff like this.”

People like my one friend need to step back and consider the lives that surround them in a situation like this. Just because the people who are at a high risk of becoming severely ill and/or dying from the virus are already taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves doesn’t mean those who are at a lower risk don’t have to be equally as cautious. Those with a lower risk need to do their part as well in protecting themselves, because if you’re willing to put yourself at risk, then you’re complicit with the possibility of putting more vulnerable individuals at risk.

Sports Editor

Andrew is the sports editor as well as a news reporter for the Ithaca Times/Finger Lakes Community Newspapers. He also enjoys writing personal essays in his spare time.

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