When it happens to you: Personal experience with COVID-19 testing

By Chase Rogers

As the pandemic continues to worsen in the state of Texas and the nation as a whole, Hays County residents have reported varying experiences when getting tested and the virus’ side effects.

Cameron, who wished his last name not be used for sake of his employment, tested positive for COVID-19 in late April. He believes that he contracted the illness at work, a service industry job where he works closely with customers.

As a 24-year-old, Cameron said he is concerned that many people his in his age group are unconcerned with the virus, citing a common narrative that the illness is no worse than a cold for younger individuals.

“I’m not a smoker and I consider myself in decent shape, but, when I had COVID, I was always exhausted. I was bent over breathing and exhausted from having conversations on the phone, from just walking around,” Cameron said. “I was strongly considering going to the ER at one point. It really is that bad.”

He also takes issue with the narrative that 20-29-year-olds, who make up a majority of the active cases in Hays County, are catching the coronavirus because they are not following safety guidelines, rather, he believes it is because they make up a large chunk of the essential workforce.

“I often hear ‘oh, it’s 20 to 29-year-olds and they get it because they go the bar.’ But I don’t think people realize these ages make up most of the population of essential workers who had to work through this thing the whole time,” Cameron said. “I think that’s getting lost in this whole thing. They telling the youth to stay home when they have no other choice.”

Cameron added that there is a phycological aspect that plays out among younger people who suspect they will need to seek medical attention, as many have lost their health insurance and are fearful of high medical costs.

“When this all started and I would have days that I didn’t feel good, there was definitely a part of me that was like ‘Is this COVID? Have I not been careful enough?’” Cameron said. “It plays with you and you start to worry about the people around you. Unfortunately, one of those times I was right that I had caught it.”

Cameron lamented that his testing experience was not ideal either, opting to go to a CVS testing location in South Austin, describing a nearly hour-long wait and 10-day waiting period for his positive result.

Recently, Hays County promoted a local option based out of San Marcos High School where I attended to get tested as a precaution. This testing site was operated with help from the state and facilitated by Texas national guard members.

My experience with getting tested at this location was drastically different from Cameron’s, as my test was quickly administered, and my results were sent out via email three days later. I, comparably, tested negative for COVID.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said in commissioner court that he appreciated this help with testing from the state but emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships.

“I’m grateful to have the state helping us … but we are a national hot spot. Public-private partnerships are more nimble and able to use a myriad of testing components,” Becerra said when discussing other options in the county for testing.

More information on Hays County testing sites can be found on the county’s website.

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