We are all going through something that most of us could never have imagined - a worldwide pandemic, and it is scary. There is no question about that. Like most people, I have been social distancing, limiting visits to the grocery store or gas station, and going into work for the morning show and leaving right after to finish my work from home. I fervently wash my hands and sanitize everything I touch, hoping it is enough.

Being in the media, I can't escape the daily onslaught of news and statistics regarding this horrible virus. I have read the heart-wrenching stories of loved ones dying alone. Medical staff on the front lines dealing with people deathly ill, and they are worried about themselves getting sick or infecting a family member or friend. Add to the headlines stories of protesters of stay at home orders and business shutdowns.

Then my cough came. I was not worried at first because I have chronic bronchitis and it usually hits in the spring every year, but this year is different. Being out in public and starting to cough, you get the stare from strangers as they quickly shuffle away from you and it feels strange. We are scared to be around each other and wearing masks out in public has become the norm.

I was 99% sure that this was my bronchitis coming back and I needed some antibiotics, but since clinics are closed, an e-visit would have to do. My doctor was great, and made me feel at ease but suggested the test for COVID-19 just to be safe. I knew I did not have any of the other symptoms beside my cough, but I was concerned for my roommate, my co-workers, and any other person I had come in contact with, so I needed to know.

Here is where things got very strange and surreal. I got my appointment and went to the testing station in West Duluth. Staying in my car, you pull up to a booth and a masked medical person asks your name and birthdate, then you pull up to a closed garage door. The door slowly opened, and as I pulled in and it looked like a movie set. Everyone is in head to toe hazmat suits with tables and equipment set up.

I stayed in my car the entire time, and at a a safe distance answered more questions and then pulled up to get tested. A nurse approached my car, and was very kind in explaining what would happen. She handed me a Kleenex and said I will need it because my eyes will water from the test. She then asked me to roll my window down, put my head back and sit on my hands. She then proceeded to stick a giant swab deeply into my nose. My eyes watered and I gagged. Now, I consider myself a pretty tough person, but it was awful. They gave me a slip of paper and said I would be contacted in 72 hours, and off I drove.

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I was called with the results 2 days later and the test was NEGATIVE, thank God. But for those 2 days, I did not leave the house. My mind was reeling, thinking what If I have it and are one of those people that can't fight this off? What about my co-workers and their families? They would all have to get tested because of me. I felt so guilty about something I had no control over. All I can say is please follow the protocols that are in place.

I know people need to get back to work. I know that parents are stressed out home schooling their kids. I know businesses are struggling. But the sooner we get on the downhill side of the peak, the sooner we can get back to a more normal way of life.

Thank you again to all the medical staff on the front lines, first responders, grocery store and retail workers, truck drivers, and everyone else on the front lines we will get through this together.

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