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The brief video provides a rare window into the process. Fear of the virus is at an all-time high, but testing in the United States is still frighteningly rare. Many people don’t know what to expect from the process, if they can even get approved for a test. Thanks to Shelby, a 17-year-old Utah native, we now have a better idea of what a COVID-19 test entails.
Last week, Shelby began experiencing flu-like symptoms. “I had a runny nose, chest congestion, deep coughs, high fever, and had kind of a hard time catching my breath,” she told BuzzFeed in an interview. Due to a recent trip to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the symptoms sparked immediate concern for Shelby and her parents.
With the virus on their minds, Shelby and her parents got ahold of their healthcare provider. After describing her symptoms, they were transferred to a coronavirus screening line. “We answered the same questions with different people as we moved through the screening process,” Shelby said. “They didn’t care that I had been in Las Vegas, but since I had all of the symptoms and I had been in California within the last 10 days, they approved me for the coronavirus test.”
First step down, Shelby and her parents found a testing site. Thankfully, there was one nearby. “It was only two miles from my house,” she explained. “We parked out front in a designated parking area and called the phone number they gave us over the phone. The person on the phone checked us in, and within 20 minutes they sent a nurse out to my car to administer the test.”
When the test—which was administered entirely from her car—came, Shelby decided to fire up TikTok. The resulting video only shows the end of the process, as a swab gets shoved uncomfortably far up her nasal passage, but it is still quite informative. The video has since gone viral, racking up 2.7 million likes.
“They put an electronic device on my finger and took my temperature. Then, they did a throat swab. It was uncomfortable but not painful,” Shelby told BuzzFeed. “Lastly, they did a ‘deep nose swab,’ which I was assuming would only be a couple of inches up my nose and a little uncomfortable. But, it ended up going down several inches, and it was painful. My eyes watered quite a bit, and it made me gag.”
According to the caption on Shelby’s TikTok, the swab felt like getting “stabbed in the brain.”
About 18 hours after the process was complete, Shelby had her results. She tested negative for the coronavirus. Still, out of an abundance of caution, she says her family is following all the recommended safety measures. “My parents have us all social distancing ourselves, so even while schools are closed, they have us staying away from other people,” she said. “We spend a lot of time inside or out in our yard with just each other.”
Shelby and her family have the right idea. Despite her negative results, the spread of coronavirus is best controlled by everyone—not just sick people—practicing self-isolation. She may get bored with only her family for company, but at least Shelby is safe and coronavirus free.
Last updated Mar 19, 2020, 9:30 am
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT’s Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.