Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — So, how’s it feel having a six-inch q-tip shoved up your nose?

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Judy Hart said Thursday, from the front seat of her SUV, after her quick drive-through COVID-19 test at the Gravenhurst Community Centre/arena.

“It’s nothing to be afraid about.”

And it’s free.

Just a little watery eyes, she said, noting she was just doing it as a precaution after she and her husband, Gary, were recently back from their annual Manitoulin Island family vacation where some friends were mildly ill.

“You never know,” she said. “It’s crazy, you think you know”

Hart breezed through the test, another in a summer series of rotating drive-through centres for the coronavirus, July 23.

And could know her results online tomorrow (two days later) or within a few more days, paramedics told her.

She was among 107 people (all wearing masks) tested, said Rotarian Bryan Graham who co-ordinated the volunteer help.

That’s down from a “record 203” a few weeks earlier at the first date in Gravenhurst, when vehicles were lined up, he said.

Chief Jeff McWilliam, of the Muskoka Paramedic Services that is running the many pop-ups each week across Muskoka, said on average they’ve been doing about 120 per day.

Once you pull up to register — with your health card, doctor’s name and a few questions — you’re through in less than five minutes.

A team of half a dozen paramedics — including two blue-gowned, masked and shielded “community paramedics” who administer the simple nasal swab — cheerfully answer questions from wary drivers and whisk you through.

Community paramedic Diane O’Neill, who leaned in to swab Hart’s nasal cavity for sample, said she’s had no problems.

Just the weather; she prefers the drenching rain of the day before in Port Severn to the heat she has had to dress for in protective PPE.

Meanwhile, Rotarian Graham said they expected more traffic.

They were “ready for a huge onslaught” this week.

He said after their last test day, June 30, they had a debriefing and made a few changes to speed things up.

So they’ll be even more prepared again for the next Gravenhurst date, Aug. 12.

Drive-through test centres are going on throughout Muskoka.

And anyone can drive in — as Jane Blackmore did.

The Lake Rosseau cottager said Thursday was just more convenient for her than other days.

And reports today said tests may no longer be necessary before entering retirement homes.

In Gravenhurst, Granite Ridge and Gravenhurst Manor are only taking visitors’ temperatures and asking about symptoms.

They didn’t require visitors to show proof of a negative.

See story here for list of other dates.

The drive-throughs are separate from the standalone Assessment Centres that have been operating in Bracebridge and Huntsville since May.


Judy Hart, of Gravenhurst, explains why she was tested, after returning from an annual summer family vacation to Manitoulin Island.

Judy Hart’s test was fast and easy and all done behind the wheel of her SUV.



Celebrating 25 YEARS of ‘Local Online Journalism’

Follow us at Twitter @muskokatodaily

And on Facebook at mclairmont1

Leave your comments at end of story.

Letter to the Editor:

Subscribe for $25 at