What is it like to be tested for coronavirus? SF family tells their story

ByJuan Carlos Guerrero via KGO logo
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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After a family member came down with a fever, reality set in of the possibility the illness was caused by COVID-19. Here's a family's experience navigating doctors to finally get tested.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News Producer Juan Carlos Guerrero has been chronicling the toll uncertainty is taking on his family as they wait for a coronavirus test result. Follow their story, with all the updates, here.

While testing for the coronavirus is not widespread yet, some people are being tested and that includes my wife.

She fell ill a few days ago and was tested Monday morning.

Our ordeal began last Friday night when my wife sent me a text just after arriving to our San Francisco home from her work in San Jose.

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It said, "I have a fever: 38.1 degrees Celsius." That's 100.6 Fahrenheit.

She was able to talk to a Kaiser nurse by phone on Friday night.

"She told me to take Tylenol, fluids and get plenty of rest," said my wife, Ma. Leticia Gomez. The nurse booked her a telephone appointment with a doctor for the following day, on Saturday.

The fever went away with the Tylenol and has not come back, but she has body aches and a dry cough that persists.

On Saturday, a doctor called and determined she should get tested because she finished chemotherapy a few months ago, and her mother (who is 75) is visiting us.

The doctor said I would not get tested because I am not sick and I am not showing any symptoms. If my wife tested positive then I likely had the virus as well. I knew that, but it still felt strange when she said, "It is too late for him."

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The doctor also advised us to stay away from each other, which we had already been doing since she felt ill. Leticia has stayed in our bedroom and I moved into my daughters' room (they are away in college). Whenever I take her food, I immediately go and wash my hands and disinfect any surfaces she has touched outside the bedroom. Luckily, we have two bathrooms, so we can maintain some sort of distance. It is still strange. We can't even watch TV together.

I have self-isolated in case I am infected with COVID-19, but I still have to go outside to walk the dog.

Testing on Monday morning was at a drive-thru tent in the parking lot of the Kaiser French Campus. Only patients with appointments for testing are allowed to drive into the lot.

"They don't let you get out of the car. You just stick your head out of the car. They give you a tissue to blow your nose to discard any mucous you may have. Then they come to you with a swab, but it is sharper, not like a cotton swab. They put it all the way to the back of your throat. They collect something from there. Then the other end they stick up your nose. It hurts a bit to be honest, but you have to do it. It takes 20 seconds maximum. And when will you know if you are infected? That's the part that I am really upset about. They told me I have to wait five to seven days for test results," said my wife with frustration in her voice.

I was not tested because I don't have any symptoms. We expected to know within 24 hours if she has coronavirus. Waiting five to seven days, living together, but each of us isolated in a different part of the house is very tough.

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"It's a bit of a wait, and I am just bouncing off the walls in my bedroom," she added.

In the meantime, I will keep washing my hands every time I make contact with her and wiping whatever she touches with disinfectant as we both try to keep our sanity while we wait for the results.

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