Since the pandemic began, I have gone through waves of hypochondria. Each allergy sneeze ignites an imagined future in which cough and fever claim my body. But I’ve never had real symptoms, nor confirmed exposure. So, though I wanted to, I didn’t have reason to be tested.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been out at protests lately. When the city recommended on June 6 that protesters get tested at the new drive-thru citywide testing sites in SoDo and Northgate, I made an appointment and got swabbed. (King County now has a map of other testing sites, some of which require insurance.)

On Friday—based on over 3,000 tests, only one percent of them positive—the city changed course. Now the mayor’s office is saying, “To our knowledge and based on volunteered information, there is no evidence so far of people testing positive for Covid-19 from attending protests in Seattle. Let’s make room for people who need testing—who have symptoms!” 

So if you’ve been protesting and have any symptoms, go get a test. It’s incredibly easy. Here’s what to expect.

I made an appointment a few days ahead through the city’s website. I typed in my name, date of birth, phone number, address, and reason for visit (I just wrote “Covid-19 test”—you don’t need to say you were at a protest). You can also sign up over the phone. Both sites are in converted car emissions inspecting stations, so you need a car to visit. You also need a photo ID, but you can get tested no matter your citizenship or immigration status.

I arrived a few minutes before my appointment and got in one of the short lines, with only one car ahead of me. The first person checked my ID and insurance (you don’t need insurance to get tested but should submit it if you have it—you aren’t charged either way). She handed me a vial and a piece of paper with a code and a URL where I could find my test results later.

I pulled up to the next person. He took my vial, stuck a swab so far up my nose that it felt like it pierced my brain, handed me a tissue and sent me on my way. The whole thing took about 10 minutes. Results are supposed to be available online within 24 to 48 hours, but I got tested at 2:50pm and mine were up the next morning. Negative. Which gave me peace of mind until I stepped into public again—and isn’t that person standing a little too close?

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