Briny Breezes resident Ann Carmody receives a COVID-19 nasal swab test from Palm Beach County Health Department nurse practitioner Guerlyne Estime during the one-day testing June 16. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Dan Moffett
It lasts about 10 seconds, demands some careful nasal navigation and nearly always leads to a snotty, yet relatively happy ending.
People are really happy to get it over.
As of the summer of 2020, testing remains the most effective weapon in the fight against the growing COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 16, a steady stream of residents and neighbors came to the Palm Beach County Health Department’s medical truck parked outside the Briny Breezes Clubhouse to be tested for coronavirus infection.
“It’s a little uncomfortable,” said Briny resident Nancy Signorielli. “But, you know what? It’s something we should do to protect ourselves and to protect everybody else.”
The truck with a half-dozen county health care workers and hundreds of nose swabs spent seven hours administering the free tests to anyone willing. By day’s end, 151 people had been tested.
Town Council President Sue Thaler arranged to bring the mobile unit to Briny. She heard complaints from a few residents who thought that it was unnecessary because the town has had no confirmed COVID-19 cases. Testing is how to keep it that way, the skeptics were told.
“We have a fair number of people who find it difficult to get to the other testing sites,” Thaler said. “I heard they had the unit in other towns. I called right away and asked, can you bring it to Briny?”
Thaler said she showed up when the truck opened at 9 a.m. to be first in line. “There were already people here waiting to be tested,” she said.
The unit has the capacity to test about 300 people a day, said Wendy Shields, a member of the county crew who was soon to graduate with a degree in health care management from South University in West Palm Beach.
“The line moves pretty fast,” Shields said. “We’ve been to Boynton Beach, Palm Springs, Lantana and Lake Worth — all around the area.”
No news is good news when it comes to COVID-19 tests. If your results are negative, you will hear nothing from the Health Department. If the test comes back positive, then the department will contact you in three to four days.
Brinyites James and Brenda Dooley were among the first to be tested.
“It’s like they told us — uncomfortable but not at all painful,” James said.
“There is no pain involved,” said Brenda. “It was nice of the county to set this up for us.”
Longtime County Pocket resident Stuart Malin walked over to take advantage of the testing next door. Thaler put the word out to neighboring communities, and people from Ocean Ridge, Lantana and West Palm Beach came to the Briny test site.
“What they told us was right,” Briny resident Peter Theodoroff said after exiting the swab tent. “It’s uncomfortable but bearable. I’ve had many worse operations than this.”
Ann Carmody rose from the test seat laughing. “I wasn’t screaming,” she said.
Having lived in Briny for 31 years, Carmody, 85, has witnessed her share of crises, natural and manmade, local and global. But 2020 is a year unlike any other in the last three decades.
“I’ve seen a lot, but never a world like this,” she said. “Isn’t it awful?”