It was a relatively warm Wednesday afternoon in St. Cloud. Many Central Minnesotans, including myself, were waiting in line at the River’s Edge Convention Center. The line went down the west wall and wrapped back around to the loading dock area on 1st Street. The line comprised various ages, and they were all waiting to get their free COVID-19 coronavirus test.

Photo: David Black

Some of those that were waiting did not have to wait very long. That's because they had gone online a couple of days before and had made an appointment. And that’s the smart thing to do. I chose not to make one because I wanted to get in the trenches with the grunts. I wanted to experience this like many other of my fellow Minnesotans -- convenience is damned.

Photo: David Black

Everyone seemed to be aware of others and kept themselves "socially distant" in the line outside. Once you got inside, those six-foot separations spots were clearly marked, just like most of us see no matter where we go these days.

Photo: David Black
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The waiting in line part took a little longer than an hour. Once you were inside, it went pretty quick. I spoke to one of the workers and asked if it was always this busy, she said yes. Wednesday's and Thursday's are typically the busiest. She then gave me my test kit and told me to head to table four.

Photo: David Black

So I went to table four, open the test kit, and read the instructions. Simple enough. You basically had to enter your info on the website using your smartphone and then spit into a tube.

Photo: David Black

The test itself took about 20 minutes. Half of that was spitting into the tube. And that was because you had to fill it to the line with saliva -- not foam.

So everyone is trying to do this, they're struggling, and looking around at others as if to say, "Am I the only one that can't fill this?" No, you are not -- everyone is struggling. Then you hear this tap-tap-tap sound coming from all over the room. People are trying to settle their spit into the tube. I actually laughed out loud.

Photo: David Black

It's surprisingly hard to spit that much into a small area. This is coming from a guy who used to spit for a living as a kid. Plus, you're not allowed to eat or drink or put anything into your mouth 30 minutes prior.

After you were done, you are supposed to put the tube into a hazardous waste material bag. Those were not provided. Instead, there's a box by the exit, with everybody tubes. The word "cross-contamination" came to mind.

Photo: David Black

As I went back to my car, that line was still as long as it had been 90 minutes ago. Oh, and my test results -- negative. This kid is COVID free, for now.

 

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