I had my first COVID-19 test on Sunday morning. After staying home for the past six months, my husband and I are taking a little vacation to Maine this week, and we both needed tests before traveling. I scheduled it online – easy – for 9:00 in the morning on a Sunday. I thought we might be the only ones there. Nope.
By registering online, I’d already provided our names, birthdates, address, telephone number, health provider information. We showed up at 9:00 on Sunday and found at least ten cars ahead of us in line. This was in Providence, at the designated facility in the Convention Center garage. Windows up. Camouflage-wearing National Guards patrolling. We inched along. I looked to my right and noticed another line of cars, but they seemed to be moving. I realized that the National Guard volunteers (thank you) were working the two lines, only the line to my right was being run very efficiently – a volunteer was walking up and down the line, taking pertinent information, and slipping a test kit under the driver’s windshield wiper. Our line didn’t have anyone walking up and down the line, so nothing happened until we reached the head of the line.
With the windows up (“Windows Must Stay Closed!” “No Cellphones! No Cameras!” – would someone actually take a selfie at a COVID test? Of course they would), my husband pressed his license to the window, while a guard wrote down by hand all of his information – the same information I’d provided online. Why couldn’t he just scan the license, I thought. Then it was the same for my license. Meanwhile, the cars to my right were moving forward. We waited for our test kits to be stuck under the wipers, then we inched ahead. The test itself took seconds. Yes, I was nervous – all I’d heard was that a Q-tip was pushed up your nostril until it reached your brain. So, that wasn’t the case, and it only took seconds. And that was it. We had instructions for how to find our results online (we’re both negative). All in all, it took one hour from the time we arrived – on a Sunday morning, six months into the pandemic.
So this morning I voted in the primary. My little town didn’t have much of a primary – my representative in the US House of Representatives, Jim Langevin, had an unknown challenger, and there were two men vying for an empty state senate seat. So, two races. But it was right up the street and my husband and I always vote, so off we went. No lines. We were all masked up, as it’s the norm these days, and I walked up to the desk. A Plexiglas panel was between the volunteer worker and me. I took out my license and boom! “Just set it right there, dear. That’s right. I’ll scan it.” See? That was easy. She handed me a pen, that I was to keep (no more sharing pens, right?) and I made my little circles on the ballot, then I fed it into the machine. I was #34 at 9:30 this morning. I’m sure November will be a lot busier.
Perhaps the National Guard couldn’t scan our licenses because we had to keep our windows up? I don’t know, it was just ten times easier to vote today than it was to get a COVID test on Sunday. But the test results are good, and I hope the primary results are as well.