We Got Tested.

Everyone is perfectly healthy. But we recently traveled to/through some “hot spots” and we wanted to ensure that we weren’t walking around all contagious and asymptomatic. So all four of us got tested recently, and I thought that I’d share what local testing scoop I’ve got.

There are a few different options that I’d heard about. The trouble is, as things change hither and yon, these can change. But here’s what I’ve got.

A lot of folks have said that they’ve had a good experience with testing at WellNow. What I have heard is that you can go in without an appointment or a prescription and get a test. I’ve heard that going first thing in the morning is best. The only specific intel I’ve heard about how long it takes to get results is that someone said they’d received results in three days and someone else said it took four days.

There’s also free community testing here in Schenectady. Call (518) 419-0370 to register.

  • Bridge Community Center, 735 Crane Street, Schenectady
  • Mondays: August 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31
  • Schenectady Islamic Center Parking Lot, 89 North Brandywine, Schenectady
  • Thursdays: August 6, 13, 20, and 27 from 1-6 pm

*If it is raining or a heat advisory is issued, the testing site will be cancelled for that date. For more/updated information, check their main site. I don’t know how long these results take. I actually heard about these because Michelle Ostrelich, who’s a Schenectady County Legislator, shares that stuff all the time, and it always sort of does my heart good because she (and Holly) organized our bus trip down to the first women’s march, and now, look, she’s in office, and so many folks from that trip have done so much fabulous organizing since then. But I digress.

Now, I had heard that another friend did the official NY state testing at U Albany, and it sounded like it had been a breeze. She originally planned to just get her son tested, she didn’t have to do pre-screening, they ended up giving her a test, too, since she was in the car, and she got her results in 24 hours. I loved the sound of 24 hours. Funny how you can spend months not getting tested, but then as soon as you take the test, you’re like “I want my results immediately!” As it turned out, the process had gotten a little more involved (and slow) since my friend’s account, but here’s how it went for us.

On Tuesday the 21st, I called the COVID hotline at 888-364-3065. They told me that for each person to get tested, we needed to fill out an online assessment at the New York State testing site.

The form is relatively quick: are you having symptoms, did you have contact with someone who’s positive, are you an essential worker, etc. Then, you can either wait for them to contact you, or you can call the hotline and tell them that you’ve filled out the assessment. Which is what I did. Then I was able to set up a drive-through appointment at U Albany for Thursday morning. I think the appointments were on the half-hour starting at 9 am.

Whoa. They are set up for a massive number of people to be tested. It’s, like, an ocean of orange cones. And there are big signs telling folks that they have to pre-register in order to proceed. And there are very specific instructions, like that you’re supposed to make sure your car is in park as you stop, keep all your windows rolled up, and put your testing registration and picture ID on the dashboard.

It was not crowded at all when we went. That said, it was also just low-key stressful. The crowd control measures, the tight security, and the national guard members ushering us through the check-in process via hand gestures to keep our windows closed all made us feel like, “Why yes, here we are coping with a national emergency. Hmm, this looks like something you might see at the beginning of your apocalypse movie before the zombies just appear and all hell breaks loose.” So, you know: that is a bummer. I should also say that at this point it was all just such a startling sight that I wanted to take photos to share with you, but there was clear signage that no photos or videos are permitted.

When it was our turn, we drove under a large tent and stopped at a table where two medical people were waiting for us. They reconfirmed that we were the correct people, and then the tester went to one window at a time. First Cute W, then M, then me, then J. We got the super-long-swab-way-the-hell-up-your-nose test. You’re supposed to just look straight ahead and try to stay relaxed as the person swabs and counts off numbers. As soon as the swab was in Cute W’s nose, he started giggling. It tickled him. M, too. For me: no. I didn’t like it. For me it burned, almost like when you inhale a bunch of water through your nose and it feels kind of burny way up in your nasal passages. . . has that ever happened to you? Anyway, that is how it felt, which was a huge bummer, because half of our family was still chuckling with ticklish delight, but of course I was trying to stay all neutral so I wouldn’t freak J out. And then after J was done (ticklish, too), I said that it hurt me, and Cute W said, “Yeah, I sensed that you were having… a different experience than I’d had.” Absolutely.

Somewhere along the line we’d been told that we should get our results within 48 to 72 hours, but then they had us create an online account in which the disclaimer said it might be two weeks. What the what? I had accounts going for both me (because I’m me) and M (because she works with the public, so I thought they might fast-track her results) and I checked them approximately constantly. I finally got my results on Sunday morning, so within about 72 hours. I was negative. But when I went to check M’s account, it wanted her to email to verify that she was herself, which she did, but it remained held up. Cute W figured that they’d text him when his results were available, but they didn’t, so he created an account and his negative result was already available. Meanwhile J couldn’t have an account because she’s a minor, but meanwhile none of her information was on the parent accounts, either, so I emailed still trying to access results for J and M. Then I gave up and called the number they’d provided in my account information, and they updated it right away. We were all clear.

And there was great rejoicing.


  1. Maggie

    We had also traveled to a hotspot with literally 14 days between returning home and leaving for another trip to a non-hotspot with my in-laws. We also went to U Albany, and I felt the same way you did. I also checked my results CONSTANTLY. We got our results at midnight between days 4 & 5. It’s crazy how nerve wracking the wait was, even when we were all feeling completely healthy.

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