December 20, 2021
This week, my wife and I had an unexpected close encounter with the Omicron crisis that is unfolding here in New York City, and I wanted to share our experience. We got tested on Friday because we found out the night before that Daria was exposed to Covid at a work event. On Tuesday, she dined indoors at a restaurant with her boss and co-workers, and she was notified on Thursday evening that her boss had tested positive. So we went together to get tested on Friday.
We first went to a mobile testing location in Kew Gardens Hills. The line was not terribly long–maybe a quarter of a city block. But we were told by another person before we reached the back of the line that they were not allowing any more tests for the evening because they were closing in an hour and a half and didn’t have enough staff to finish the line in time.
So we then took a drive to Queens Hospital Center in Hillcrest (the next neighborhood over). There were three separate lines, some of which were supposed to be for Department of Education or city employees only. But it was very disorganized and nobody seemed to know where to stand. On a few occasions while we were waiting, there were heated exchanges between people in line and the staff because they felt others were getting ahead of them unfairly. While waiting in the line, we searched the Internet for all types of alternative testing– drive thru, at home, you name it–but everything was either sold-out or had no appointments available. So we stayed the course.
The staff did do a good job ultimately of keeping everybody calm. When we finally got to the front about an hour later, everything was handled very professionally by well-trained staff members. Our one complaint was that the tests were done inside of trailers that didn’t seem to be that well-ventilated. But overall, it wasn’t a bad experience, especially considering this was a New York City government-run testing location. We’ve had pretty good experiences with the New York City-run vaccine sites as well when getting our Covid vaccinations.
After the testing was done, the anxious waiting began. The testing location only had PCR tests available–no rapid tests. And because of the tremendous demand for tests right now, the wait for results was a lot longer than usual. We were told it normally takes less than 24 hours. However, we didn’t get our results until Sunday night, about 48 hours after we were tested.
At that point, we were finally able to exhale. Both negative! We are each triple-vaccinated so we were not very concerned about serious illness for ourselves, but we have a five-month-old at home and also have a trip to Aruba planned for December 24th. A positive test would have likely derailed our plans entirely.
The bad news is we need to take another test before our flight, since the Aruba rules require a PCR test no earlier than 72 hours before the flight. We are extremely concerned based on this experience that the delays in testing results will make it very difficult for us to time the next test in such a way that it qualifies us for our flight. But we are very relieved that our scare is over.