When the dust settled, 1,355 tests for COVID-19 were administered during a community testing event Thursday at Teton County Fairgrounds.
Turnout for the event was much higher than anticipated. Teton County Health Department officials had estimated that 300 tests might be administered, and were surprised to have performed more than triple that number by 5:30 p.m., with 90 minutes left to go.
By 10:30 a.m., a stream of Jackson residents waited in lines for around an hour for their turn.
At the entrance to the fairgrounds, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Captain Lily Sullivan and fellow team members greeted each car. She said the influx of cars began long before setup was complete. Workers surmised that many residents wanted to be tested before heading to work.
A few drivers were asked to take a lap or two around the fairgrounds before coming back to the entrance to keep traffic from backing up onto Snow King Avenue.
Erika Edmiston, waiting her turn at the first station, said her employer, Teton County Weed and Pest, had asked its workers to get swabbed.
“I think everyone should come out and get tested today,” Edmiston said.
But she also came for personal reasons: She’s the only family member who has been leaving the house, and she figured that if she tests negative, her two children are in the clear, too.
The fairground setup had seven lanes that eventually narrowed to two paperwork stations. Once paperwork was complete, vehicles were ushered to the next station where health workers collected nasal secretions.
Swabs are long, thin sticks with cotton tips. The end of the applicator screws into a tube to protect the sample.
“It was pretty uncomfortable,” said resident Garrett LeRoy. “I was mentally prepared but not physically prepared.”
The first station, paperwork, was most responsible for the long wait.
“Usually paperwork is our choke point,” said Adrian Croke of the Teton County Health Department.
People typically have questions, she said, and paperwork is different for free tests versus those covered by insurance, because they are sent to different labs for analysis: LabCorp or the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory. Results are expected back in three to five days.
Kathie Chandler decided that she and her husband should get tested after taking a trip to Salt Lake City to pick up a new member of the family — a rescue dog named Marley. Chandler said they slept in their car overnight instead of getting a hotel and took other precautions, but nevertheless she was worried that they might have been exposed.
“I just want to do my part staying healthy and safe,” Chandler said, despite the unappetizing prospect of getting a stick up her nose. “I’m gonna buck up.”
This was accompanied by a short, determined nod. Croke joked that “no one’s screaming yet,” so Chandler would probably be fine.
This version of the article has been updated to reflect the total from the entire day of testing. — Ed.