Orange County has opened up free Covid-19 testing to essential workers and persons who are asymptomatic but have had exposure and cannot receive a test from their doctor.
When I heard about the free PCR testing for essential workers it was on the Orange County Health Care Agency website. Previously tests were only available through private practice and were limited to those displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
I headed on over to the evaluation and appointment website lhi.care/covidtesting that was listed on OC Health. The website asks you to identify your state and then runs through a series of prompts.
The prompts cover everything from age, employment, symptoms, pre-existing conditions, exposure, if a healthcare provider recommended you to get tested, travel, race, gender, ethnicity and insurance if you have a plan.
Registering for an appointment
Once I ran through all the prompts I was taken to a page to register for an appointment. Basic information was asked along with contact information, birth date, mailing address and email.
An appointment calendar popped up on the next page and allowed me to pick a day and time for testing. The nearest facility to me was San Juan Capistrano however there are multiple testing facilities across Orange County.
I went to the health facility, mask in tow, and walked up to the doors. They were sealed off with huge signs that said ‘Covid-19 testing around corner.’ I walked around the corner to find a security guard sitting in a chair on the grass.
The security guard asked if I was there for testing and when I said yes he gave me a number on a yellow post-it and told me to wait in my car and he would come get me when they were ready.
After about 10 minutes the security guard came up to my car and said I was ready to be tested. I had to have my ID and patient ID number from the lhi.cares website out and ready to give to the healthcare worker inside.
I walked into the health facility to be greeted by plastic curtains and a nurse fully-clad in PPE. I told her my patient number and she asked me to hold my ID up to the plastic curtain so she could copy the information. After she took my information she prepared a paper and two bags for me to take to the practitioner.
I took the bags and paper from a blue plastic bin she held out from underneath the plastic curtain and went to the procedure room.
A female nurse, also in full-clad PPE, greeted me and asked for the bags. (One containing the sterile swab and the other to send the swab test out in.)
Once the nurse double checked my name and birth date she opened the bags and pulled out the sterile swab. She explained that she would tilt my head up and insert the swab and hold it for 10 seconds to gather the sample and then remove the swab.
The nurse said I could leave my mask on and to pull it down under my nose. Once my mask was exposing my nasal cavity she asked me if she could move my head.
The nurse positioned my head upward in a 45-degree angle and told me to hold still. She held the swab in her right hand and inserted it into my nose.
When I thought the swab had reached its destination, she pushed the swab further and she must have seen my eyes widen because she held my forehead stable and pushed the swab further.
Having the swab inserted felt like an immense amount of pressure. It was not painful but it definitely was uncomfortable. Like when you’re laughing so hard water comes out your nose, that tingly feeling took place after she pulled the swab out.
10 seconds later she removed the swab, put it in the sample bag and told me I was good to go. Results would be sent to me within 72 hours.
FREE COVID-19 tests are available for essential workers and others who are asymptomatic, but have been exposed to the virus and can’t get a test from their doctor. Call 1 (888) 634-1123 or visit https://t.co/COXCx1iyGn to make an appointment. #OCCOVID19 pic.twitter.com/797t3mVB1m— OC Health Care Agency (@ochealth) June 3, 2020