Baltimore City Convention Center Field Hospital on Charles Between Pratt & Conway

Friday’s bike ride took me down to the Baltimore City Convention Center to get myself a COVID test. I wasn’t having any symptoms, and the chance that I picked it up from teaching in person on Wednesday and having it show up on Friday was incredibly low, and yet, there I was, getting myself a test. The CDC guidelines say it’s not necessary for asymptomatic vaccinated people to get tested, so was I just leaching resources? Or should I actually be getting tested regularly? If I taught at a rich private school I’d be getting tested all the time, I’m just saying.

I don’t know exactly what I should be doing regarding testing, but I do know that I’ll likely find myself needing a test at some point this semester, and I’m a girl who likes to be prepared. This was a good chance to figure out how to make an appointment (it’s super easy), where to go (“the convention center” is pretty big–go to Charles between Pratt and Conway), and how it would feel (easy and breezy).

The bike ride itself was an absolute breeze. It just feels so good to be out there doing my old rides around town. I instantly feel more like myself when I’m pedaling along, dinging my bell and alerting drivers and pedestrians that yes, I’m here, and please don’t hit me or step into my path at the last minute. Once I got downtown I rode around the Convention Center, unable to find the entrance to the testing place–but now I know where it is. I locked up to the bike rack that looks like a person on a bike and grabbed a spot in line with the other folks getting tested at 1pm.

The doors opened at 1:05, and we streamed in, all in face masks, all six feet apart. The line moved so, so quickly. This might have been my first PCR test, but these folks have been testing, vaxxing, and infusing people for a long time. They know how to do it. I checked in, got shuttled to the C gate, and waited my turn.

Ahead of me was a tiny kid in a tiny mask, getting tested before starting at day care this week. The kid sat quietly, their dad’s hands on their shoulders, and got swabbed twice without moving an inch. Total professional. I was a little nervous about having my brain scraped, but I wasn’t about to be shown up by a three year old, thank you very much. I steeled myself–we got this.

Two people behind me was my neighbor S., getting tested before starting in person at a job she’s been doing from Colorado for a month. Small town, so of course my neighbor is in line with me. The person behind her shooed her up a spot so we could chat, but this place is a machine, and we all had to stay in line. Don’t gum up the machine, we’ll see each on our porches soon!

And then it was my turn, and I was overcome with gratitude for the people swabbing me. They were so nice about it. They asked me if I’d been vaccinated–of course, I gasped. Of course! The very least I could do for them, and the most I could do to save my own life. The vaccines are just terrifically effective at keeping the vaccinated out of the hospital. And then the swab was up my nostril, doing a slow turn and another around the door to my brain–it didn’t quite feel like it got to my brain itself. The other nostril got the same show, and then I was done, out the door, and back on my bike to zoom home for a 2pm meeting.

Now I know how to get tested, and I’m not anxious about it at all. If I need a booster shot, I could easily get it there. If I end up need monoclonal antibody infusions (knock on wood!), I can easily get it there, too. It was all so easily navigated, a reminder that when the state puts the planning and resources behind a thing, it can work amazingly well.

I left the next morning to go camping with the ladyfriend, and that afternoon I got a buzz on my phone–results already in! I didn’t have the wifi to check immediately, but when I did I got the expected negative results. Here’s hoping they stay that way because wow, I love teaching in person, think it’s really important to do, and want to do it only if public health suggests I can. See y’all at the testing line!

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