PSA: COVID-19 TESTING AT PIMLICO, or, A Tale of Two Tests

UPDATE: It was a miscommunication, and our friend has not actually tested positive!! She is still awaiting results. So, Opal was not in fact (to our knowledge) exposed, and I guess we scammed a free test off the government by accident? I’m not mad.

Tl;dr: Call 410-601-2222 to find out if you’re eligible for testing at the Pimlico racetrack.

Along with a bunch of other cool friends, Opal and I have been volunteering with free food distribution programs. Unfortunately, putting yourself on the frontlines means that sooner or later you get exposed.

A friend of ours was scheduled to go into the doctor’s office for a routine test unrelated to the pandemic. Before going in, despite her lack of symptoms, they tested her for COVID-19 to be safe… and, oop, she came back positive. Two weeks ago, she and Opal were working together. Both were wearing masks at the time, but it’s enough contact with someone confirmed positive that Opal was able to get a test scheduled for herself by calling up the hotline at 410-601-2222.

I asked to be tested too but am not eligible since I’m a degree of separation away from anyone who’s had a positive result or clear COVID-19 symptoms. In retrospect, I could easily have lied and said I was around our friend too, and gotten tested. It’s not like they check. I don’t know how I feel about the fact that I didn’t, but I think it’s worth noting what it looks like to ask for a test and get it, and ask for a test and not get it (thus, A Tale of Two Tests).

Another wrinkle — I’m not sure whether or not our eligibility for testing was impacted by the fact that we’ve been doing food service work. They did ask us both that question early on, whether we are emergency or other frontline workers/volunteers, so it may have been part of the equation for the fact that Opal was approved?

We went to Pimlico for the test just now, coming into the big parking lot on the Belvedere. Everything was easy and efficient. The National Guard members running the place had us keep the windows rolled up and call them them to coordinate, which was clever. We pulled into a tent and rolled down the window so that a nurse in a face shield and gown could swab Opal’s nose. She said it was uncomfortable, but not too awful.

The results will be back in 3-5 days. In the meantime, our whole household is supposed to quarantine. If Opal comes back positive, then the rest of us will be eligible to be tested too.

Photo: National Guard members operating a mobile testing site at Pimlico Racetrack.

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