Jonathan Bratt, Executive Director of UMB's Office of Emergency Management

Jonathan Bratt shares his experience getting a COVID-19 test; returning UMB students and employees must now get their own.

Negative. Thirty hours after taking a COVID-19 test, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Executive Director Jonathan Bratt saw these precious words on his phone’s screen.

Bratt wasn’t exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. He didn’t have any known exposure to the virus. But with hundreds of students and employees returning to UMB after months away, a negative COVID-19 test is a requirement before coming back to campus.

COVID-19 testing is now easier than ever: no doctor’s note is required. “I just went online and scheduled a test, although an appointment wasn’t required,” says Bratt. Once he registered, he received a text message with instructions to sign up for an online patient portal and a University of Maryland Medical System medical record application. He signed up for an account and downloaded the app. It took only a few minutes.

Bratt arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center for his appointment. Easy-to-follow signs and helpful staff directed him toward registration. It was a beautiful day and he joined an outdoor line under tent roofing (with appropriate physical distance, of course). He rubbed hand sanitizer on his hands.

“Registration was a breeze,” says Bratt. “You can snap a QR code and use your phone to sign in or you can speak to a representative at a desk. All you need to bring with you is an ID and your nose.”

After signing in, Bratt moved to the next station, where he answered medical questions. Then he moved on to the dreaded sample collection.

“It wasn’t as bad as I expected,” says Bratt. “A lot of people talk about it ‘tickling your brain’ and hurting. For me, it was just a little uncomfortable, but it was really quick. They put a swab in my nose, held it for five seconds, spun the swab, and pulled it out.”

And that’s it! Bratt walked back to his car. “The whole process took 30 minutes, tops,” he says. “It’s like signing in for a 5k or a half-marathon.”

Bratt says he felt safe the entire time, with a supervising doctor, health care workers, and police officers on-site. Physical distance, masks, and robust sanitizing efforts were enforced. Less than two days later, he received a text message that his results were ready and he could log into the app to view them.

UMB students and employees can schedule a COVID-19 test at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital – like Bratt – here. Additional testing locations in Maryland can be found here. Testing locations outside of Maryland are available on each state’s health department site, which can be found here.

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