Let’s call it a growing unease. After an outdoor Thanksgiving at my house with family and friends who haven’t been a regular part of my quarantine bubble since March, I planned to revert to working from home for a few days.

To be clear, I don’t have any symptoms. I can still taste and smell and I’m not coughing and I don’t have a fever. But I HAVE been affected by the reports of the new swell of coronavirus cases in Monroe County and around the nation. I haven’t felt this unsettled since the beginning of March, when Italy was getting clobbered by a new and scary disease.

So, better safe than sorry.

When the Keys Weekly published a story about the Curative test for COVID-19 last week, it was a sure sign for me to get tested. I’m a fan of the cotton swab and saliva test. I’m not a fan of the nasopharyngeal test, or “brain poke,” as some like to call it. My impulse control is low anyway, and I wasn’t sure if I would react rationally to being skewered.

After one false start — I couldn’t make an online reservation at the previously announced location on Big Pine because testing moved to Founders Park in the Upper Keys — I was all set to go.

The setup at the park is a parked sprinter van. It’s been modified with a window, a speaker, and a slot. I approached the van and held my phone in the air so the invisible lab attendants could read my reservation number through the window and verified my birth date. Then a plastic kit came through a slot into my waiting hands.

Attendants instructed me to step to the back of the van and gave me spoken instructions. Take the swab out of the plastic bag, don’t let it touch anything. Cough three times to bring up any virus in the lungs. Then swish that swab all over – cheeks, between the gums, over the tongue, under the tongue, roof of the mouth. Open the vial, put in the swab, close the vial and shake three times. Put the vial back in the bag and step to the other side of the van to put the plastic bag through a slot.

It probably took longer to read this than it did to take the COVID-19 test. And, as promised it was fast and free. No one came near me. I didn’t go near anyone. They say the results will be available one to two days after the lab gets it. (In Keys speak, that means like two to three days, right?) I will be notified via text and email.

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I don’t think I have coronavirus … but I don’t know that. For many people the disease barely registers, but for some it’s very dangerous, if not fatal. I’ve made it this far in the pandemic through common sense and good luck.

But the whole experience had me pondering the notion of how well Americans follow directions. It goes beyond directives to wear a mask in a grocery store. For example, takers of the Curative test shouldn’t smoke, eat or drink for 20 minutes before the exam. I know this because I’m a nerd and actually watched the video that came with my reservation confirmation. The lady in the car next to me did not. She calmly sipped her coffee while waiting for her turn to be tested. I would love to climb up on my high horse here, but I forgot to cough. The attendant had to remind me. We’re fallible, either because we’re distracted or ignorant.

Use common sense, be lucky, follow directions and trust your instincts. Be safe, everyone.    

To make an online reservation for a Curative test, visit www.curative.com. Testing is available through Monday, Dec. 14 at Founders Park.

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