I’ve gone through or seen four different Covid-19 testing procedures over the past year, not counting the ones I’ve only read about. (You remember, the early days of the pandemic when they were still trying to make enough tests, and weren’t sure just how easily transmissible it was, so they had people wearing haz-mat suits and passing the test kit to the patient on the end of a long pole.)
The first Covid-19 test I took was in July 2020. I was coughing and registered a fever, so I went to an urgent care. Masks and distancing were standard by then. I signed in at the door, then waited in the car until they called me on my phone. They led me into one of the exam rooms, asked me the screening questions, then handed me a nasal swab to administer it myself.
The second Covid-19 test I took, at the end of September, was in the emergency room. I was there for an unrelated health problem, but if you’ve got someone who’s going to be in the ER for a while (and let’s be honest, if you have to go to the ER, you’re going to be there for a while), you have to check. They basically just stuck the cotton swab up my nose while I was sitting on a gurney in the hallway. To be fair, I was pretty out of it by that point.
The third Covid-19 test I took was at a drive-through pharmacy window. I didn’t have any symptoms, but I’d been potentially exposed. I made an appointment ahead of time and drove up to the window. This was the kind of window with an extending drawer that they normally use to trade your payment for your medication. They passed a plastic bin out with the swab kit, instructions, and a collection vial. I did the swab myself, put it in the vial, then put the vial back in the bin to return it.
The fourth test isn’t one I took myself, but I was at an urgent care last week for another issue and got to see how they were handling it. They were screening everyone at the door to the building. If you were there for Covid-19 testing, you wouldn’t even set foot in the building. You’d wait on the sidewalk or in your car, and when they were ready, a nurse would come out and meet you with the test kit. I don’t know whether the nurses or patients were performing the nasal swab, but I thought doing it all outside (this is Southern California in spring, so YMMV) was a good way to minimize transmission.