Covid-19 testing kiosk

Seattle now has kiosks like this one.

Receiving a Covid-19 test is rarely a pleasant experience. As my colleague Stefan Milne wrote in June, the standard nasal swab usually goes so deep it can feel like it's jabbing your brain. It's not always that way; while I've had one test of the deep-prod variety, I also had another in which the swab merely took a merry-go-round-like trip around the center of my nostril. Not bad at all.

There's another way around the brain tickle. Seattle is the latest city to open oral Covid-19 testing sites. Free of charge and sans insurance, people can walk up to kiosks in the Central District (east of the Garfield Community Center) or Northgate (south of the Northgate Community Center), swab the inside of their own mouths, and return their samples to workers inside these booth. After installing the kiosks late last week, the city expects to see a 1,000-test boost to its current 6,000 test capacity. (Update, 12/22: The city is adding three more kiosks this week: one in Lower Woodland Park in North Seattle, one near Seattle Center, and one just west of the Mt. Baker light rail station in South Seattle.)

The sites are generally open between 8am and 3pm Monday through Saturday, but appointments are required; you can make them through the city's testing website or via Curative, the company behind the tests.

If you're not especially dexterous, you may want to leave it to the professionals and go the traditional nasal testing route. But if you're merely concerned about the validity or reliability of this less, um, vigorous diagnostic, you may be surprised to learn that the effectiveness of saliva tests appears to rival that of the "nasopharyngeal" ones. At least it can't hurt, right?

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