Get tested for coronavirus. It’s not that bad, I promise.

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If you still, for whatever reason, have not had a coronavirus test, I have some good news for you: it’s not that bad.

Well, it’s a little uncomfortable.

But it’s over quickly, really. 

I drove to Riverside Wednesday, June 3, to participate in a Riverside University Health System event for journalists, promoting community testing. And it turned out that county officials’ invitation for me to come participate in the event couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d just spent the last few days going to protests all across the region, from Hemet to Fallbrook. I hadn’t been tested yet, but I’d also been carefully quarantining myself. Once the George Floyd protests erupted, however, I had little choice but to go cover them and potentially expose myself to COVID-19 in the process.

So I went to Riverside for testing. You don’t have to do that by the way. There are free testing sites in Temecula, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, San Jacinto and plenty of other areas across the county. 

The testing site I went to was set up in the old Sears parking lot off Arlington Avenue as a drive-thru testing location. 

I pulled my car in behind the line of other journalists not knowing what to expect – was I going to have to get that long, scary-looking cotton swab stuck up my nose like I’d seen in some coverage of the testing sites? 

No, it turned out; the health workers instead used the giant cotton swab to poke my throat. Not quite as bad as the nose thing, although still certainly not fun. 

It did take a couple of tries for some reason, and the health worker commented on my tonsils, which was a bit awkward – apparently, they’re big. I’m not sure if that’s good news or not.

But just like that, it was over. Off I drove. Not so bad, eh?

I got my results back over the phone, Saturday, June 6. I’m negative, for now. But now that I know how easy and mostly painless it is to be tested, I’m sure I’ll be back in a week or two to make sure I wasn’t exposed to coronavirus after my test; I am still going to continue to cover protests, after all.

And my advice is to go get tested. There’s no reason not to. It’s totally free. It takes maybe 30 seconds. If you do have symptoms, you should be going anyway. Even if you don’t, which I didn’t, you’ll at least get the peace of mind that comes with knowing you tested negative and are probably not spreading the coronavirus around to everyone you come in contact with. 

Schedule an appointment to visit one of these free county-run and state-run walk-up and drive-thru testing locations in Valley News’ coverage area: 

For Grace Mellman Library, 41000 County Center Drive, in Temecula, call 888-634-1123 or visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting

For Diamond Stadium, 500 Diamond Drive, in Lake Elsinore, make appointment online at www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19.

For Valle Vista Community Center, 43935 E Acacia Ave., in Hemet, call 888-634-1123 or visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting

For a privately owned testing site, 790 State St., in San Jacinto, call 800-945-6171. 

The testing sites are open to anyone, with or without symptoms with no out-of-pocket costs to individuals. 

Those receiving testing should have their health insurance information on-hand, but individuals will not share any costs or copay and testing is offered if health insurance info is not provided. 

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.