Last Friday morning I woke up with a sore throat.
Normally that wouldn’t be a noteworthy occurrence, but in a world now inundated by COVID-19 news, it was alarming. The alarm bells rang a little louder particularly because I had returned a few days prior from a trip that took me through Switzerland, the Maldives, and Singapore with roughly 30 hours in airplanes and in airports each way. Those countries, which all seemed safe to travel through when I left for my trip on March 3, were now seeing a steady rise of coronavirus cases. Despite aggressively washing my hands every step of the way, bringing N95 masks, and wiping down my seat area on all my flights, I’d been self-quarantining since my return just as a precaution. Now it appeared as though I might be sick.
I started checking my temperature pretty regularly over the weekend, between bouts of yelling at people on social media who were out at bars rather than social distancing, and I rarely had a temp over 98.1. I was ready to call it a cold, and then Sunday afternoon I started having trouble breathing, along with a persistent cough and runny nose.
I have asthma, so a little trouble breathing isn’t exactly out of the ordinary. The combo of it all, though, made me think it was perhaps time to reach out to my doctor about getting a coronavirus test.
In San Francisco, I’m a patient at Google-backed One Medical. It has offices around the Bay Area and an online portal where you can email clinicians. When I logged in to contact my physician for advice, there was a huge notice at the top of the page asking anyone who thought they might have COVID-19 to call.
I called. The tone of the cheerful person who answered the phone changed rather dramatically as I listed my symptoms and told her where I had traveled to. She spoke to someone else who directed me to go into the office’s app, which allows you to seek medical advice without a visit, and essentially tell the online form what I had just told them. She said someone would most likely call me within an hour after completing the form.
And so I did. Later that afternoon an email came asking me about my asthma meds and confirming my symptoms and travel history. Afterward, I was sent a form letter, in a way confirming a COVID-19 diagnosis, with instructions suggesting that I separate myself from others and pets, wear a mask, and avoid sharing personal items.
No offer was made to test me.
Knowing at that point that we both agreed I checked a lot of boxes, I asked why.
According to the person I emailed with, they were trying to protect vulnerable patients—of which I am one—from further potential exposure by not having them tested since a positive test wouldn’t change their advice. It makes sense, but I responded to say that I thought not testing me—and reporting those results to the CDC and WHO—would be a negligent move. Minutes later, I received an appointment confirmation for a test the next morning.
Unlike some other places where tests seem to be done in a regular office setting, One Medical has closed one of its local offices and is using it expressly for COVID-19 testing.
Shortly after my appointment was confirmed, an email came with instructions for that testing visit. I wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom at the office. I needed to come alone. I should avoid public transit. I needed to arrive exactly when my appointment began, not before.
“For your safety and the safety of everyone in the test site, our team members, including your provider, will be wearing masks, face shields, and gowns. We’ll have a mask available for you to wear when you arrive (if you aren’t already wearing one).”
Luckily, the office is roughly half a mile from my home. I strapped on an N95 mask I thankfully had left over from San Francisco’s fire season last year and walked—slowly, because I can’t really breathe—to my appointment so I didn’t potentially expose anyone else.
When I arrived, I waited outside the closed office by the locked door. San Francisco went under a “shelter in place” order at midnight, so the streets were rather deserted. While I waited, a teenager on a scooter came by and grabbed my phone, accidentally dropping it on the street during his getaway from the would-be theft. That, or maybe he saw my mask and where I was standing and put two and two together.
After I retrieved my phone from the street, the door to the office opened, and a woman in scrubs and a mask confirmed my name and date of birth before opening the door for me to come inside.
Right inside the door was a large bottle of hand sanitizer, which I was instructed to use before coming any further. An exam room had my name written on it with a Post-it note.
I was the only patient in the office.
Once in the room, a clinician wearing three masks—one larger N95-like mask similar to my own, one surgical, and one hard plastic shield—came in. She explained the test, which if you haven’t read about it yet essentially involves shoving a long Q-tip further up your nose than you think is possible. They would do one nostril for flu, the other for COVID-19.
She performed the test, which is unpleasant but not painful, and then moved to the other side of the room where she removed a large full-body paper jumpsuit she had been wearing and discarded it in the trash by the door.
The woman who let me in returned to open the door to the exam room for me and the door to the building to let me out, successfully making it so I touched absolutely nothing in the office while I was there except for that hand sanitizer. From start to finish, I was possibly inside the building less than five minutes.
My flu test results came back before I made it home. Negative. That means I either have a cold, or I do in fact have COVID-19. I won’t know either way for four or five days.
I also have no idea how much all of this is going to cost. In the email to prepare me for the appointment, the company said: “Similar to other visits, we will process the appointment through your insurance plan. We will be updating or collecting insurance information via secure message once you are home.”
That said, I’m lucky to have been able to been tested at all. My travel, coupled with my symptoms and existing respiratory issues, potentially pushed me to the front of what is likely to become, if it’s not already, a very long line. I have no way of knowing if other people were turned down for tests when I was not, but I am thankful that I was able to get one.
Now I just have to make it through the next few days waiting on those results.
More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:
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—How mainland China’s closest neighbors have kept coronavirus cases so low
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—Listen to Leadership Next, a Fortune podcast examining the evolving role of CEO
—WATCH: The race is on to create a coronavirus antiviral drug and vaccine
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