What it’s like to get COVID testing at a California Super Site and why our government needs to do better

At this point in the pandemic, the majority of us have been tested for COVID at least once. Whether it was because we were sick, potentially exposed, or as a preventative to travel/from traveling most of us know full well that COVID testing isn’t the most comfortable experience.

COVID testing is uncomfortable at best and down right infuriating at worst, but I feel like a lot of that has to do with what time of day you go more than it has to do with getting a Q-tip shoved up your nose.

This is my fourth time getting tested. My first ever test was done at one of the drive through do-it-yourself pharmacies, and judging by the two tests I took after that test, I’m almost certain I wasn’t doing it right the first time. My next test came right before Thanksgiving at my doctor’s office; we were wanting to meet up with family and everyone that was to be in attendance got tested beforehand. I was not prepared for that one, the pure level of nose bashing was not expected. Since I had only self administered my test beforehand I was not expecting my eyes to be watering and to be coughing out the devil himself when the medical assistant cried “I’m so sorry” as she shoved the Q-tip up my nose to tickle my brain. My next test, that also was administered by a medical professional at my doctors office, came after my husband was exposed by a co-worker at work; we all decided to get tested as a precaution. I went to that test prepared to be nose bashed again but was pleasantly surprised when the medical assistant was gentle. She still tickled my brain with the Q-tip, but it was less abrupt and traumatizing than my previous experience. The wait times for these tests varied between half an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, which was not surprising to me at all. Luckily, all three times I tested negative for COVID-19. I have since been exposed by a family member and am praying to God that I somehow came out of this last encounter unscathed.

So now here I am, sitting in the parking lot of the Anaheim Convention Center awaiting my fourth test. This wait has undoubtedly been the longest, considering I’ve been here for over an hour and a half and still have not been triaged. While this wait has definitely been the longest, it’s also been the most interesting. Maybe because it’s a rainy day I somehow expected the wait time to be shorter, or maybe everyone else was thinking the same thing too. I drove in and immediately felt bad for the staff. They’re all just sitting here soaked to the bone with miserable looks on their faces, understandably. Except for this one guy, who was dancing in the rain while he worked. He was swinging his arms to point the cars down the correct lanes like he was break dancing in the club. Kudos to you sir.

I know that these medical personnel are doing the best that they can. I truly commend them and thank them for being here for thousands of people day in and day out, rain or shine. However, these sites are so badly set up that I almost miss being nose bashed by my doctor’s medical staff. The most important part is that this is not these workers fault, it’s the governments. Our government has got to get a better handle of these sites.

So here’s my break down of these California super sites, and why California needs to do better:

Testing Locations

Why they decided to make a testing site in the tiny back parking lot of the Anaheim convention center is beyond me. The size of this parking lot, I kid you not, is not even the size of a small outdoor shopping center. A Walmart parking lot is probably bigger, and I’m not exaggerating. Yet for some reason they decided this was the place. When you have an empty Disneyland parking lot, empty Honda Center parking lot, empty Angels baseball stadium lot, all within minutes of this small lot, it makes me wonder who was in charge of this poor decision.

Testing Time Slots

My test time was scheduled for 9:30am-10:00am. I left early and arrived just short of my scheduled time at 9:27am. It took me a solid 15 minutes to get into the actual parking lot from the backed up line on the street. We were separated into 3 different lines to begin with coming into the parking lot. From there, the lines split into about 10 different lines leading to the triage tents. It took me about an hour and a half to get to the triage tent from entering the parking lot. Once in that tent, took me about 15 minutes to get triaged, get my test, and then given instructions on where to go next. By the time I left the parking garage after self administering my test, asnwering questions, getting vitals taken, etc., I was finally out of there at 11:53am. I do understand wait times for this testing, but I feel a large part of the wait was simply not enough room for all the cars to go. The testing time slot to me, seemed absolutely pointless and unrealistic. It’s worth noting that when I left, the line was almost twice as long down the street as when I arrived for my test.


I was unsure what was really going on, or where to go because there were times when you would be directed one way only for them to send you in a different line. When I finally got to the first triage tent, I was asked by three different people what my appointment confirmation number was. I was asked if I had any symptoms multiple times and each time it took several minutes for them to come back to my car to figure out who I was. Again, I don’t find this as the fault of the staff. I feel like maybe during appointment registration you should have the option of entering in the car you are in or details of your vehicle, it could possibly speed up the process. Regardless, it all seemed very unorganized.

Cleanliness and Sanitization

This is the area I felt like needed the most work. Quite frankly, I was horrified at the lack of cleanliness going on at this site. I will once again affirm that I do not believe this is the staff’s fault. Our government likely has not provided them with enough equipment, cleaning supplies, or PPE. I noticed these poor healthcare workers weren’t even provided proper N95 masks, but KN95 and surgical masks. Their gloves looked worn, one lady having a rip in one of hers (high up on the wrist, not the fingers), and most of their gowns appeared to be either ripped or falling off of their bodies due to broken strings. When it came time to do vitals, I opted to give them my blood oxygen level and heartrate using my Apple watch because I watched as they went from car to car putting the Pulse Oximeter on the next person’s finger without sanitizing it for the next car. On my ride home I didn’t dare touch anything in fear that I might have accidentally touched something contanimated with COVID. When I got home I hopped straight in the shower to wash the dirty feeling off of me.

Overall, this experience was not pleasant, and it had nothing to do with the actual test. Our government’s handling of these super sites is inconvenient, confusing at times, and in my opinion, dangerous to the health of both the workers and those needing to be tested. Our government needs to figure things out and get everyone involved in these sites better protection, and they really need to re-evaluate the locations and process of these sites.

Now that you know the worst of the CA “super sites”, it’s worth noting the positive aspects of these sites. I always like to end things on a good note. So here they are, the positives:

This site wasn’t the worst, I’m sure there are more out there that are far worse than this one and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about those sites. There are a few things that made this experience bearable.

Friendly Staff

Despite the horrible weather conditions of today, other than the grumpy faces, the staff all seemed to be pretty nice. They answered what few questions I had and didnt seem to be annoyed at my confusion, or the occasional halt in the line when others weren’t paying attention and held up the line. My guess is that they are used to it and probably agree that these sites have major flaws. I thank each and every healthcare worker for sacrificing their time and their health to help others during these crazy times, you are not forgotten and much appreciated.

Quick test results

My husband actually works in the healthcare field. He works in radiology and is exposed to COVID on a daily basis. He gets tested every two weeks and every time he has gotten a test he has gone to this exact site. Maybe he just has good luck or maybe they expedite his results because he works in healthcare, but his results are always recieved by the next night after his test. If there’s one thing this site does perfectly, it’s getting their tests to the lab and getting results out quickly. I just got tested today but I’m hoping to get my results as quickly, will update on that later.

Access to testing

For ease of scheduling and access to testing I give this site a 10 out of 10. A lot of testing places require doctor approval, prior telehealth visits, or an out-of-pocket payment. This site is 100% free, with or without insurance and no doctor’s visits are required to schedule a test. For being a much longer wait than it would be to get tested through your doctor, if finances, insurance, or legal status is an issue then this testing site is the perfect place to go.

Helpful Instructions

The first place I went to was pretty misleading. You stick the Q-tip in your nose, you pull it out and put it in the tube and you’re good, right? Not quite. After having been through my other tests, I found out how far up the Q-tip actually has to go in order to get an accurate result. This site does a great job of providing instructions on self-administering your test. They have printed paper versions (in multiple languages) as well as a how-to video sent to your email when you register for your appointment. If you forget how when you finally get to the front, they have signs posted throughout the parking garage with exact instructions on how to administer the test, which I found very helpful.

Would I come here again?

Maybe. If I didn’t want to go through the few days waiting period for a telehealth visit with my doctor, or if I was able to find someone to watch my kids again while I wait in line, then I might consider coming back to this site for a COVID test. If I ever get tested again, this would not be my first choice of testing site. However, if the alternative is waiting multiple days for an appointment or having to pay a bunch of money to get tested, then I would prefer this place over the former.

So there ya have it. Take from this post what you will. This has been my experience visiting a CA super site for COVID testing. I know others have had completely different experiences than me, better or worse, and I’m completely open to hearing others perspectives on it. Have you been tested at one of these sites, and if so what was your experience? I’d love to hear it, drop it down in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s