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What it’s like getting tested for COVID-19

County resident had been in contact with someone else who tested positive

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A Will County resident, who asked to remain anonymous, was recently tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Although the screening test is a swab, the process for getting tested is not as simple as getting tested for the flu.

This resident also has not received the test results.

Here’s what happened so far.

About midnight Friday, the resident woke up with a headache, which disturbed this resident’s sleep for the rest of the night.

As the day progressed, this resident learned that an acquaintance in another county was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. So this resident went into self-quarantine, called a hospital and asked about testing.

The hospital instructed the resident to call their primary health care provider, advised the resident of a “shortage of tests” and said unless the resident “had all the classic symptoms, would most likely not be tested.”

So the resident called their health care provider, who wasn’t exactly certain of all the steps either, but thought the resident ought to reach out to the health department.

But which health department? The health department where exposure occurred? Or the Will County Health Department where the resident lived?

So the resident contacted both.

“At the time, there was no hotline or options for this COVID-19,” the resident said of the call made to the WCHD. “You could tell that people were not concerned too much in Will County. There wasn’t even an option to press.”

The WCHD now has a dedicated hotline for COVID-19.

The county where the exposure occurred did reach out to this resident to ask about symptoms.

“I just said I had a headache,” the resident said, and the resident also had a low-grade temperature in the 99s.

Because no one advised self-isolating during this process, the resident did make two trips outside the home.

One was to a bank ATM, where the resident used hand sanitizer and wore gloves, the resident said.

The other was to vote, waiting until the end when only one other voter was present. The resident disinfected everything they touched.

“I even took home the pen,” the resident said. “And then after disinfecting it, I threw the pen away.”

That evening, the health department in the county where the exposure occurred contacted the resident with testing instructions. As it turned out, this resident had actually been exposed to several people who had now tested positive for COVID-19.

The resident had specific instructions from the hospital for the test.

“The thing they stressed the most was not rolling the windows down until they told me to,” the resident said. “I felt like I had some horrible disease or something. I had to stay in my car even during the testing. I could not get out.”

The resident was instructed to park in front of the emergency room entrance and then followed a shuttle with flashing lights to the testing site.

People in gowns and masks motioned the resident to the place to park. A health care worker, fully gowned with mask and gloves, showed the resident the their identification information and asked the resident to nod “yes” or “no” to the information.

Only then was the resident instructed to roll down the window for the swab. The test is a nasal swab and both nostrils are swabbed, the resident said.

The resident was told the test would come back in three to seven business days, the resident said. Then the resident drove home.

But that’s not the end of the process.

The resident was told to stay home until the results are back.

The resident has a monitoring questionnaire. The resident must take their own temperature three times a day (morning, afternoon and evening) and record it, along with any symptoms.

The only symptoms so far are the temperature, which has hovered around 99.7 degrees (although this morning it was 98.5), the persistent headache and fatigue.

Because the resident wants an accurate temperature reading, the resident has not taken any pain killers or fever reducers for the headache until this morning, when the resident took some Tylenol, because the nearly weeklong headache is a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale and was wearing the resident down.

The resident is hopeful the medicine will be out of their system by the next temperature-taking time. The Tylenol did not help.

The resident is guessing this monitoring will continue until the symptoms are gone or the swab comes back negative.

“I had some nausea this morning, too,” the resident said. “But it could be from the headache.”

The resident said they’re not prone to migraines.

“I do get headaches, but I’ve never had a headache last for six days,” the resident said.

Gut instinct?

“I think I’m tired because I’m stressed, and I think the headache comes from that,” the resident said, although the headache occurred before they were aware of any exposure. “Although if I have it, this is the best ‘flu’ I’ve ever had, if you want to call it that.”

A small part of the resident hopes the test comes back positive so that they gain the immunity.

But mostly the resident hopes the test comes back negative and provides the relief of knowing they did not expose anyone else to the coronavirus.

The resident also keeps in contact with a friend in another state, who was also tested and who also has not received the results.

This friend’s temperature started low and then rose to 101, the resident said.

But this resident does have a message to the community.

Be responsible and considerate with frequent hand-washing, social distancing and self-isolation if you have any symptoms of illness, especially if you have contact with the elderly, the resident said.

If you’re isolated at home with family members, enjoy the quality time, the resident added.

“Even though it’s a stressful time, you can turn the lemons into lemonade,” the resident said. “Hopefully, we’ll survive.”

How to get tested for COVID-19

According to the Will County Health Department’s Facebook page:

1) Call your primary health care provider.

2) Your doctor must go to and fill out the patient investigation form to see if you should be tested.

3) If the doctor still believes you could be tested, the doctor calls the health department to receive instructions. The patient does not call the health department. The health department does not provide on-site testing for COVID-19.

4) The number the doctor should call is 815-740-8977 (COVID-19 hotline).

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