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Getting Tested for COVID-19: Why You Should Do It, and What to Expect

Find out what it’s like to get tested for coronavirus and where you can get the test.

Published: 06/04/2020

A testing site at Mercedes Benz Stadium. A testing site at Mercedes Benz Stadium. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health is now encouraging everyone to get tested in order to assess the scope and breadth of the pandemic’s reach. There are numerous locations available to get tested in and around Midtown, with or without symptoms. 

We spoke to two people who recently went to get tested — one for COVID-19, and one for COVID-19 antibodies, as well as employees at a testing site to find out how it works and what you can expect if you sign up for the testing. 

CVS Minute Clinic Testing at Georgia Tech

CVS Minute Clinic has established a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site on the Georgia Tech campus. Testing is available by appointment only, and you must fill out a brief questionnaire online ahead of their appointment to see if you qualify due to limited testing supplies.

A woman gets tested at CVS Minute Clinic's testing site at Georgia Tech.A woman gets tested at CVS Minute Clinic's testing site at Georgia Tech.

Qualifications for receiving a test include: 

  • A referral from a medical professional
  • Symptoms including fever, cough, loss of taste or smell
  • Medical conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease
  • Work in law enforcement, health-care or as a caregiver to an older person or someone who is immunocompromised.

On May 18, we shadowed a woman who got tested on the Georgia Tech campus. Upon arrival, she was required to stay in her car and provide proof of identity and in-state residence and an email or cell phone number to receive her test results. She estimated 50 cars were in line at the same time, but was done in less than an hour. The test itself consisted of a nasal swab, which she performed herself while still wearing a face mask. 

“The test was uncomfortable, but I liked that I got to do it myself and it was over fast,” she said. “It was very organized, there were a lot of safety precautions in place, and I got my results within a few minutes while I was still waiting in the parking lot.”

Sign up for testing on the Georgia Tech campus here

 

CORE Response Offers Pop-Up Testing Around the City

For those who prefer not to fill out forms ahead of time or haven’t had any symptoms, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) offers another option with pop-up testing sites around the city that don’t require appointments. Registration on-site is available and locations for the week can be found here.

The free testing is offered in partnership with the Arthur M. Blank Foundation, Latino Community Fund Georgia, the International Rescue Community and Project South. The goal of the effort is to provide more testing to vulnerable populations like essential workers, and the Latino and African American Communities, but anyone can get tested. 

No ID or address is required, though CORE does ask for a few pieces of demographic information.

“We are trying to decrease barriers for getting tested,” said Teni-ola Ogunjobi, communications specialist for CORE. “If you’re an undocumented immigrant or you’re not insured, we still want you to be able to come get tested.” 

One pop-up testing location near Midtown is The Home Depot Backyard at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, which is open Thursday through Saturday. Through last week, CORE also offered testing at three early voting sites in the metro area. 

Like the CVS testing site at Georgia Tech, the test is a nasal swab. CORE offers walk-up and drive-up services, and if you’re in your car, you are asked to never roll your window down more than two inches as a safety precaution. With this system, CORE has the capacity to offer hundreds of tests per day, with results provided within a few days.

 

Antibody Testing: The Difference and The Process

While the COVID-19 nasal swab tests to see if you currently have the virus, you can also get an antibody test to see if you’ve had the virus in the past. This is a laboratory blood test you would obtain from your physician — call ahead to see if your doctor is currently offering testing. 

One Atlanta resident, who asked that her name remain anonymous, chose the antibody testing over the viral test because she had recently recovered from what she thought was a bad cold, but she was no longer sick. One of her symptoms was losing her sense of taste, which the CDC also lists as a symptom of COVID. 

“I wanted to see if I had been exposed to the virus,” she said. “Several of my friends and family had the antibody test as well, and we all wanted the results to come back positive because that would mean we had already had the virus. The only person’s test who came back positive was actually a friend who never had any symptoms.

She got her results back over the course of one weekend, and though she found her results surprising, she’s happy she decided to get the test done.

“I’d recommend anyone get the antibody test if they think they’ve maybe had the virus over the last couple of months,” she said. “I was sick for almost a month and a half, and I thought surely that’s what it was.” 

 

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