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What to expect at a self-swab COVID-19 test site

Long lines at testing sites in Southwest Florida are a clear sign that people want to know if they have COVID-19. As options for getting tested expand, questions grow about how to best learn if you’re positive or negative for the virus.

Most test sites consist of long lines and strangers sticking swabs up your nose. Now, the public also has the option of drive-up, self-testing at various locations, such as CVS Pharmacy.

“It was like going to a bank or a drive-thru, CVS prescription pickup,” said Steve Houk, who recently did a COVID-19 self-swab.

Houk did his testing last Sunday and continues to wait for his results. He said the self-test did pose a subjective scenario when administering the swab for himself.

“It did say you’re supposed to go up until you meet resistance,” Houk said. “Now, is that like up here or in here? So I did it as far as I could.”

CVS Pharmacy said there is a “MinuteClinic” practitioner who hands you instructions at the start and watches you do the swab, about 20 seconds in each nostril.

“Typically, you want to tilt your head back first, take the swab. Typically, it’s the left nostril. Insert it in a couple inches to where it starts to get a little uncomfortable, and then turn it twice, and hold it there,” said Robert Hawkes, director of the FGCU physician assistant program.

Hawkes said the tests are comparable to the ones done by health care professionals and maybe even a little more comfortable.

“You’re just trying to get into the moist nasal passages where you’re trying to find out where the virus can be,” Hawkes said.

CVS testing locations do not require appointments. You do not need health insurance to take the test, but be sure to bring identification. The turnaround time for these tests is supposed to be five to seven days.

“Considering that you’re testing for a global pandemic and all the things that can happen if you get it and all the things we’ve been hearing, it was quite easy,” Houk said.

MORE: Find a CVS Pharmacy COVID-19 test site 

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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