How much is a hug worth?
My 23-year-old daughter and I had to get COVID-19 tests; we’re taking a trip together where visitors are required to arrive with a negative coronavirus test in hand as they get off the plane. Alaska’s case numbers are low, and they want to keep it that way. Rules say that tests must have been administered within 72 hours of boarding the plane.
My daughter and I haven’t been within 6 feet of one another since March. We talk on the phone, we Zoom, we visit outside with masks, carefully distanced.
I arrived at Piedmont Urgent Care last Sunday, ready to get my rapid test. I was not able to get the regular COVID test because it can take longer than three days to get results. The rapid test provides results in 15 minutes, but insurance doesn’t pay for it. Tests are $75 each.
As I pulled up to the clinic – perhaps the only place in Fauquier to get a rapid test -- parked and texted my info to staff inside. The parking lot was full, and I was told the wait was an hour and a half. I sweated – literally – for a little over an hour before a nurse came out to administer the test.
People have told me the COVID test isn’t as bad as they thought. Don’t believe them. The nurse told me that the 6-inch or so swab would have to be inserted halfway into my nasal passages, once on each side. The swab suddenly looked at least a foot long.
And that’s how it felt. It didn’t last long, but it hurt – a lot. The nurse had obviously given the test to dozens of people, but she still murmured empathetic noises, apologizing for the unpleasantness. She made it as quick as possible.
Fifteen minutes later, I had my piece of paper clearing me of the virus.
That’s about when my daughter rolled up. We waited there together – apart -- for another hour and a half or so before it was her turn. She was tested (and handled it better than I did).
Instead of 15 minutes, her results took closer to half an hour.
(The whole time, nurses bustled in and out of the clinic, administering tests, bringing results, answering questions. They never let on that they, too, might be overheated or tired.)
In our separate cars, we were roasting, since we didn’t want to run the air conditioning. When I complained about the heat and the long wait, my more-patient-than-me daughter reminded me I didn’t have to stay. After all, I had my clearance.
When she finally had the paper saying she was negative for COVID, we both bolted out of our cars and met on the sidewalk for a good, long hug. We both were sweaty and tired, but those were precious minutes. Were they worth $150, three hours in a hot car and a poker up my nose?
Managing Editor, The Fauquier Times