On Monday, I learned I needed a COVID test because I was exposed to someone who tested positive and had symptoms. I decided to check out Firmalab testing at 516 N. Larchmont Blvd, the lab processing the tests administered by nurse Vanessa Green, who is usually on Larchmont near First Street, around the corner from Chase Bank, from Tuesday though Sunday.
But since it was Monday, I decided to go directly to the lab. When I stopped by around 2 p.m, without an appointment, there was no line. They use essentially the same system used by Greene, in which you scan the QR code and register online. You do have to upload your ID and provide your insurance data, if you have it, but the interface seemed to work more easily this time (maybe it was the cell phone connection). (But still, the interface could be better, so take note all you promising UX designers – there’s lots of work out there improving these registration sites!) Once you submit your information, you get a registration number by text message. Once you have that number, you can get in line to get the test.
Super nice Stephanie and her helper were able to answer any questions and help with the test by holding the test tube while I swabbed the inside of my mouth and the back of my throat after coughing three times into my mask. As instructed, I inserted the swab into the tube, snapped it off and they closed it up and made sure the label was on correctly. Moments later, I got a confirmation email with a QR code so could check for my results later.
This morning, I got the results — negative, thankfully. The turnaround time was less than 24 hours, though they said it might take longer.
Despite reading and writing all these stories for two years, this is the first time I was forced to focus on what to do for myself when exposed. I have no symptoms and, as of this morning, already have one negative PCR test. So is that it? Should I stay home? Am I clear?
To figure that out, I dug this advice out of one of our recent stories:
According to the CDC and LA County Public Health, as we reported two weeks ago, if you are vaccinated and boosted, there is no quarantine requirement. You do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms. But both the County and the CDC recommend more testing even if you don’t develop symptoms.
“Get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19,” recommends the CDC. By now, though, we all know that timing is everything when it comes to testing, so I have decided to stay home until I get a second test, which I scheduled for Wednesday, at the Ebell of Los Angeles, which is offering drive through testing from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in its east parking lot.
Some might say staying at home is overly cautious. And even within my own family there’s some disagreement about staying home and taking additional precautions like wearing masks at home to protect other family members who haven’t been exposed.
In a recent story, we quoted Dr. Christina Ghaly, LA County Department of Health Services Director, who said, “Anyone who spends any time in public, who goes to the grocery store, who goes to the park, is running into multiple people per day who are COVID positive.”
But because there is this sense of inevitability that we are all going to get COVID, are we acting in ways contribute to the spread?
I have talked to friends who have had it, and for many, even though they were vaccinated and boosted, they were really sick. So if you can avoid getting it, why not? And what about our responsibility to protect others? Assuming you have the flexibility to work from home, it seems like you should, if only to make you feel like you are doing your part to reduce the community spread. You never know who it will get it and how they will fare.
I’m thankful for all the local testing options and feel more confident that I’ve avoided getting it, based on today’s PCR results. The home tests are good, but are not considered as sensitive or reliable and should be used in tandem with PCR tests. Fortunately, we have several local testing options, all free and offered by reputable labs. (Firmalab also offers home tests if you want quick results and you haven’t been able to buy one at the drugstore. You can also pick up a test at their location at 870 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038.)
Since I won’t know for certain that I’m COVID free until after Wednesday’s test, I’m working from home and trying to do my part to keep everyone around me safe.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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One thought on “I Was Exposed to COVID – What’s Next”
Hope you didn’t get covid