Retiring from the Essential Worker Life: A COVID-19 Scare

Ayo, I got tested for COVID-19 check!

So, I’ve seen people upload their experience of getting drive-thru tested for coronavirus to TikTok. It was disturbing. I never thought I would be experiencing it a week later. 

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

And that's how I went from being an essential worker to being fully quarantined in a span of 7 days. 

Surprisingly, I wasn’t exposed to it through my workplace directly. One of my close coworkers was feeling a tad off, mostly a congested nose. It wasn’t until she casually told me that she had a lack of taste and I had to break it to her that that was one of the symptoms of COVID-19. She was not aware of that. Things started clicking for her. Her parents were already feeling sick, but since it felt like just any other common cold, they didn’t think much of it. 


In order to prevent any further potential exposure, she told our workplace how she was feeling, and they advised her to stay home and to come back for her next scheduled workday if she felt okay, since her symptoms were nothing major. Her paranoia was what led her to get tested, even after our workplace said it wasn’t necessary. I was actually advised to not come to my next scheduled shifts either unless I felt fine because of the close proximity I have with my coworker, whom I consider to be one of my best friends. So I did just that. I waited for her results to come back in order to reassure myself and others of whether or not we both had it. 


Got tested Friday. She was called on Monday. Positive. We couldn’t believe it. Shocked and confused. She wasn’t displaying any of the major symptoms, however, we know that’s not how it goes for everybody. She concluded that she had to have got it from her parents, who were the only people around her feeling unwell. I took this as my cue to also get tested as soon as possible since she was most likely at her most contagious state around the last time I interacted with her. 


I went super early Tuesday morning with my dad to get tested. For those who would also like to get tested, I recommend going to 6959 W Forest Preserve Dr. It’s a drive-thru testing facility. It’s free. All you need is a government-issued ID and your medical insurance card, if you have one. If you don’t, you’ll still get tested. Just don’t forget to wear your mask. I suggest going super early because even though it is from 7am-3pm weekdays only, the line gets long fast. We waited two hours. We were given flyers with information about symptoms, what to do if positive, where to seek help, etc. Once we reached the actual lanes to get tested, paperwork was filled out with our information, and within a couple of minutes it was our turn. To my horror, it was the nasal test I had heard about. It went high up my nose, and only lasted for a few seconds. Not painful. Just extremely unpleasant. 

My dad and I received our phone calls with the results on Wednesday evening, which was super fast since we were told we’d get notified within 4-7 days. 
Both negative. A weight lifted off our shoulders. A sigh of relief. Tears of joy.

Even though the negative result takes away the not-knowing, it definitely doesn’t take away the fear within. I tried not to stress myself out too much within the waiting period. Again, my parents are older and with health issues. It was eating me alive knowing I could’ve exposed them. 


Before, my dad was not opposed to my continuation of working retail. This scare was enough to have my dad advise me to not plan to go back to work. My mind is now set on leaving the “essential worker” life since it’s a great risk not only to myself, but to my family. These are the people I come home to, and these are the people I want to keep safe. Money comes and goes, but health and family is truly essential. 

Coronavirus Unsplash