New Rochelle, NY Testing Site

In my previous post I wrote about how I wasn’t able to get a coronavirus test when I went to urgent care a couple of months ago. Despite ridiculous and unrealistic claims that there would be tests available to anyone who needed it, this was totally untrue. Many friends in my immediate circle were not able to get tested. One did confirm he had the virus and was hospitalized (he’s fine now). Another was able to get tested because his friend was a nurse and she hooked him up. It was the only way he found out he was positive. Everywhere I turned, all avenues to getting tested were closed.

I was getting better aside from a persistent cough (I was prescribed antibiotics) but I still wanted to get tested. I called the NYS Dept. of Health toll free number again, this time giving not only my current symptoms but playing up the coughing and breathing. That did the trick as a day later I was scheduled to go to New Rochelle, NY (several short miles from where I live) and get tested.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this beautiful and diverse city in Westchester County, it was a hotbed of coronavirus cases very early on during the pandemic in NY. It was also for a time officially designated as a quarantined zone, with limited access to and from this city. The testing site is still active as of this writing and currently located in Glen Island Park, a beautiful location filled with playgrounds, picnic grounds, tables, barbecue stations as well as a nice beach.

As I drove down Glen Island Approach, I stopped at the entrance, just before the bridge. A New Rochelle police cruiser blocked the path. The officer was on his PA system, droning instructions as if he was having a grand time repeating the same thing for the thousandth time today. He instructed everyone to roll up their car windows and to leave their licenses in clear view on the dashboard. Listening to the instructions as he spoke to the driver in front of me, I was more than prepared when it was my turn. I was allowed entrance with no issues.

Glen Island Approach
Entrance to Glen Island Park and bridge.

I followed the signs and stayed within the traffic cones, winding over to the main staging area and passing more New Rochelle police cars. As I pulled over to the line of cars, I was directed by a state trooper. When I saw the military – my guess was the local national guard – things got serious.

This state trooper wasn’t messing around.

I formed a line and waited. I was instructed again to keep the windows closed and my license where it could easily be seen. I had my appointment number on hand but it turned out that I didn’t need it. The female national guard member in fatigues came over to my car, looked at my license and took down my information on her clipboard, relaying information to other officers.

National guard doing intake duties. Photography strictly prohibited.

I waited for a very long time as she spoke to someone in the booth. They appeared to have all my information at the ready. Just before being allowed through however, she looked at my windshield and told me to turn off my dash cam. I was really bothered by this. Why did I have to turn it off? It’s a simple and routine test. Why the secrecy?

I had to comply despite my severe irritation. She kept a close eye on me, making sure I turned it off. I disconnected the camera, not wanting to cause problems and lose my opportunity to get tested. No photography was allowed on the premises. As a person who loves taking pictures and documenting everything, this was a hard ask.

I drove past makeshift medical treatment areas(?) and got on another line where another officer reminded me that absolutely no photography was allowed. I think he might’ve seen me take one quick photo. As I slowly pulled up I was directed to one of four lines. Up ahead, I could see a flurry of activity: doctors administering tests.

I snapped a photo on my iPhone quickly. Up ahead two large tents with four car lines where the testing took place.

When it was my turn I slowly drove and a doctor/nurse by the name of Jennifer stopped me and directed me to roll down my windows only partially. She took out the longest cotton swab I’ve ever seen. She warned me that it will feel very uncomfortable. She proceeded to unceremoniously stick it down my left nostril. I initially thought that it was going to be a quick procedure. Technically it was.

Jennifer took that cotton swab and went to town on my poor nostril. She was not rough and I could tell that she was trying her best not to cause me any discomfort but it was an impossible task. She really dug deep in there. I thought she was going to pull it out. Oh no. She had to do the twist and turn move – several times. Slowly. My nostril started to feel like it was burning! It was such an incredibly uncomfortable procedure and I wanted her to stop. She was in there for less than 8 seconds but it lasted an eternity.

When it was over she smiled and gave me a card. I was to call the number to get my results within two days. And with that, the ordeal was over. My nostril was still smarting and it felt as if the swab was still in my nose. I rubbed it to shake off the discomfort. I drove slowly out of the park, noting once again the heavy police presence.

At home I followed the instructions on the card and created my online account on the BioReference Laboratories website. The card stated that the results would be ready within 5-7 days but I had to believe that Jennifer knew what she was talking about. I guess their testing methods were getting better. Two days later, I check the website and the results were in:

I had tested negative for the Coronavirus.

This couldn’t be. I just knew I had it! I tested negative because I had gotten better and no longer had any symptoms. Had I been tested last week, I would’ve been a positive case. There was only one more thing left for me to do.

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