Stillwater has seen a large uptick in coronavirus cases since June began, for a number of reasons: OSU students are moving back to Stillwater, businesses are opening back up and citizens are failing to follow social distancing guidelines, and more. But one reason may be above all the others: testing.
We’ve seen a massive increase in testing in Stillwater this month, as Payne County Health Department began providing free drive-up testing for anyone who makes an appointment — even the asymptomatic, including myself. If you’re living in the Stillwater area and wondering whether or not you should get tested, or what the test entails, I’m here to walk you through it.
Step 1: Your Booking
You can get a free test, but not without an appointment. To book an appointment, call Payne County Health Department at (405) 372-8200. Beware, though, they’re only open Monday-Friday from 8:00-5:00. When you call, listen to the answering machine and press the extension to request an operator. Once you’re on with an operator, you can request to get tested. They’ll collect your name, phone number and a code word.
You may have to wait a bit for your appointment; I called on Monday, June 15th and my test was Wednesday, June 17th at 1:10 p.m. Make sure you ask the location of your test, as they’ve given them in multiple places such as Will Rogers Elementary, Payne County Expo Center, and behind Stillwater Medical Center.
Step 2: Your Test
Once it’s time for your test, drive to the testing location (there may be a line depending on their schedule). Bring a mask to wear over your mouth while they test you! When it’s your turn, a nurse will approach you and ask for your name, appointment time and code word. They’ll also ask if you’ve come in contact with a coronavirus patient and if you’re symptomatic. After that, they’ll give you a packet with information including the test procedure. They’ll also inform you on when you should receive your results.
Then, the test. It’s a deep nasal swab similar to the flu test. The nurse will ask if you have a preferred nostril and then enter the swab up nostril until they feel resistance. For me, it wasn’t painful. Most patients simply describe it as “uncomfortable,” and I’d agree. The swab goes deep into your sinus, and although it doesn’t hurt, it is extremely unnerving and may cause your eyes to water. It may cause a headache, and your nostril may burn for a few hours after the test, but it only takes 3-4 seconds at most.
Step 3: Your Results
At the test, I was told my results would come in on Monday, June 22nd, five days after my test. There was a holdup, and I received my results on the next day, Tuesday, June 23rd (I was negative!). If you miss your call (I did), you can call the health department back and provide them with your name and phone number, but you may have to wait a few more hours, so it’s best to have your phone on you at all times. Once the call comes in, they’ll ask for your code word and relay your results to you.
And that’s the process in Stillwater. Anyone can make an appointment to get a test for free, so if you’ve come in contact with someone who tested positive, it’s highly recommended you get a test yourself. Remember, if you’re experiencing coronavirus symptoms, follow CDC guidelines and immediately go into self-isolation until you can test positive. If you test positive, contact a doctor.
For those of us that are asymptomatic, as we open up the city, let’s wear face coverings and follow social distancing guidelines for the sake of our wonderful community. It’s the right thing to do! It’s the Stillwater thing to do.