It used to be, the measure of someone’s popularity was how many Facebook friends they have, how many Christmas cards they get, or the extreme: how many people come to their funeral.
The new normal: how many people run to get checked for coronavirus after you test positive.
Last week, a key member of my inner circle tested positive. On my drive to enTrust Urgent Care on Memorial Drive, I made the uncomfortable call to everybody I had been in contact with the past two weeks. I ended the chitchat with, “Oh, I almost forgot, our friend tested positive for COVID, so you have to get tested. Bye.”
The enTrust office is between a Starbucks and a Kolache Factory in a strip center, a few doors down from Scott Gertner’s Rhythm Room. With so many people getting tested as the virus rampages, there’s a steady flow of people pulling into the parking lot. EnTrust promises results in 15 minutes and takes walk-ups. You knock on the door, fill out a form, and wait outside.
They call you in one at a time. I had been tested before, and they shoved a short swab, the size of a miniature golf pencil, up my nose. I barely felt it. Not at enTrust. They stuck a swap the size of a sparkler so deep I saw stars.
Then they’ll either call you or send an email — your choice — with the results. “You can wait in your car, if you wish,” they said. I picked email. You might want to choose call me.
Between music pouring out of the Rhythm jazz club, people waiting to be tested and more waiting for their results, there were party pods in the parking lot. With coronavirus continue to rage, rapid testing sites are doing steady good business. There are pop-up testing tents around town. Sickness is a growth industry.
Fifteen minutes later, I started staring at email on my phone. Twenty minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes … no email. The longer they took, the more convinced I was that I had tested positive.
Everybody else in my little group, all of whom took the phone call option, got their results and all were negative. I’m an impatient patient. I walked back to the clinic and banged on the door. A nurse said they were running behind with the people who asked to be emailed, and it’d be a few more minutes. I was planning my 14-day quarantine, canceling power lunches on my calendar and seeing if those shaky foreign pharmacies on the Internet offer Regeneron.
Finally, the email arrived. Negative. Whew!
After everybody was negative, the original positive person went to a hospital for a more elaborate and reliable test. There are cases of rapid test facilities producing false positives and false negatives. If Alabama coach Nick Saban can get a false positive, nobody’s safe.
This time our friend tested negative. Then another negative result a few days later. Everybody breathed easier after hearing the double negatives, which are a problem in grammar, but a blessing in coronavirus testing.
Meanwhile, the parking lot at enTrust is hopping. The only things missing are food trucks, palm readers, and a two-drink minimum.
Pet of the week
Name: Wednesday, as in the Addams Family and Wednesday morning papers didn't come (Lady Madonna).
Birthdate: February 14, 2020 — I'm a Valentine's Day baby.
Ethnicity: I'm a boxer and terrier something or other, like a combo at Kenny & Ziggy's. One thing's for certain, I'm not a shy little thing. I'm 32 pounds of burnin', churnin' fun. I love riding in cars and talking walks with my family — and by family I mean y-o-u.
I'm a curious girl, some might say nosy. (My nose is cold, meaning I'm healthy.) I'm playful and like all sorts of dog toys. I'm a real honey, if you catch my drift.
Come and get me: If you're interest in adopting me, drop an email to Citizens for Animal Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org.