With all the concerns over the pandemic, I began to wonder about how many of us are seriously taking care of ourselves to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


We can see each other in masks and gloves, but are we doing whatever it takes to stay well — washing our hands, social distancing and getting tested.


I know that a few of my friends and loved ones have taken the test for COVID-19. Gigi took it since she has to be extremely careful while working in the medical field. BJ took it as a requirement before having minor surgery. Her only complaint was they didn’t have the results before surgery began.


Both friends had negative results and so did I, but we still hold off on embracing when we see each other.


Before getting my test, I decided to ask my doctor about it on my last visit to his office. No, I didn’t have any symptoms such as fever, but after hearing that people have COVID-19 without any known symptoms, I wanted to be sure.


Besides that, when you have dealt with allergies for years, it’s sometimes difficult to tell what’s causing that congestion, coughing or whatever. I even think I’m allergic to products in some masks but I’m wearing them anyway.


Anyway, my doctor said his office was equipped to do the test on site. I figured he’d give me advice and I’d proceed to the local clinic or health department. Though I’m not sure how many health care providers do the test at their offices, I was glad he did.


The only drawback I had about taking the test that day was that the nurse must have been in a hurry and forgot to put on a mask before swabbing my throat.


The throat swab was another concern. I thought the COVID-19 test had to be done in the nose, but the nurse practitioner said that wasn’t necessarily the case.


I can see why. She stuck that swab so far back in my throat I gagged. I then went home and did a Google search to see more about the procedure and she was right. From what I read, swabbing the nose is the “preferred” method, but not the only one.


I know that in addition to hearing the daily numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, we’re now hearing how people have to wait weeks, instead of days, for their results. I hope this problem is resolved soon.


Meanwhile, getting tested may still be a good idea to allay anyone’s concerns, especially if you have underlying medical conditions, work on the front lines or in an area where being socially distance is nearly impossible.


Apparently, I’m not the only one who wanted to take the test recently. On May 30, two drive-thru testing sites were set up in Pine Bluff and had huge numbers of people attend.


At the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, 429 tests were conducted during the COVID-19 clinic held at Simmons Bank Field, according to a news release.


The event was a partnership between UAPB, the city of Pine Bluff, and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH.)


The need to come to Pine Bluff was essential because it is where the first case was confirmed, Michelle R. Smith, director of the Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities at ADH, said in the news release.


Meanwhile, Jefferson Comprehensive Care System Inc. was also hosting a COVID-19 drive-thru clinic May 30 on the parking lot of the Pine Bluff Convention Center.


JCCSI staff conducted 200 tests and had planned to offer tests until late afternoon, however they had to close early because so many people showed up, according to a news release.


“We had planned to stay until 4 p.m. but we ran out of tests before 1 p.m.,” Sandra Brown, chief executive officer of JCCSI, said. “It’s so important for all our communities to be tested, so I’m glad that JCCSI can help make that happen in some of our underserved areas.”


JCCSI also planned to hold a drive-thru clinic June 13 on the parking lot at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church at Altheimer.


If you’re thinking about getting the test for COVID-19, you can find details by contacting:


Jefferson County Health Department — 870-535-2142.


Jefferson Regional Medical Center — People with symptoms can call 870-541-4911 to schedule a test, a spokeswoman said.


Jefferson Comprehensive Care System at Pine Bluff — 855-543-2380 or for other Community Health Centers of Arkansas, call 1-833-508-0774.


Arkansas Department of Health — Testing sites in Arkansas are listed on the department’s website at https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/covid-19-guidance-for-getting-tested . Scroll down until you see the map and enlarge the map. Click on each star to see where each testing site is located, a spokeswoman said.


—- Sandra Hope is the editorial assistant and former city editor of The Commercial.