A bit of good news for both Mr. and Mrs. Ryan arrived Friday in the form of a negative reading in the coronavirus “rapid test.”

We took advantage of the free testing that was available the last couple of weeks at the Pike County Health Department. Since we hope to travel to New Orleans for our annual Thanksgiving dinner with relatives — we will be outdoors the whole time — everyone is getting tested in advance.

Mary Ann and I went to the state Department of Health website to book our appointment for Friday morning. The site asked two questions:

• Do you have a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms? Fortunately for both of us, the answer remains no.

• Have you been exposed to someone who has tested positive? For me, yes. An employee at the newspaper tested positive two weeks ago today, and another one tested positive this past Wednesday. Mary Ann has been exposed to me, so she qualified for the test, too.

The people outside the Health Department on Presley Boulevard actually give each person two exams. First is a swab inside a nostril for the rapid test. We sat in our car in the parking lot, enjoying the sunshine, during the 20 minutes it took to get the results.

The other one was the deeper intrusion into some nasal passage on the side of your nostril for the molecular information that gives results in three to five days. Maybe this should have been the first paragraph of this column, but that test was not nearly as horrendous as I thought it would be.

The procedure is called a nasopharyngeal swab. It collects a sample of secretions from the uppermost part of the throat, which is behind your nose.

I definitely felt some discomfort when the swab went to the side of my nostril. It was in there for 3 to 5 seconds, but was not too painful. What I most remember is resisting the urge to pull my head back to get away from the swab.

My eyes only watered a little bit from the second test, and the sensation lingered for no more than a few minutes. On the whole, giving the sample was not a thrill, but it was less uncomfortable than when the nurse withdraws several vials of blood from my arm during my annual physical.

Anyway, after a few minutes, a nurse came to the car to deliver the good news about our rapid tests. The paperwork said our results were “presumed negative,” which means that “cCOVID-19 virus proteins were not detected in your specimen.”

The report included a clever comment about the second exam: “Molecular tests are the gold standard, detect lower amounts of virus and may yield a different result than your antigen test.”

I’ve never seen the phrase “gold standard” in a dry medical report, but I appreciate the fanciful description.

Anyway, assuming our molecular tests meet that gold standard, we’ll have a nice Thanksgiving six feet away from my cousins. It’s better than being 100 miles away.

Meanwhile, I have another fun virus-related story to share, this one involving football tickets.

I got an e-mail Thursday night from the New Orleans Saints saying that my four season-ticket seats could be used Sunday for the game against the Atlanta Falcons.

It would be the first game of 2020 that I got to attend, and I was fired up. But when I told Mary Ann next morning, she asked why I would put myself at risk of virus exposure right before Thanksgiving.

Well, duh — because the Saints are 7-2, because I miss going to the games, and because it’s the Falcons. I made plans to attend and offered two tickets to my son Thomas, who lives in New Orleans.

He called while Mary Ann and I were parked at the Health Department and asked a surprise question: Might he be able to use all four tickets?

“What about me?” I asked.

He said he and fiancee Kayla wanted to attend with one of Thomas’ co-workers and that guy’s girlfriend. The kicker is that the guy grew up in Atlanta and is a big Falcons fan.

So Friday afternoon I transferred all four e-tickets to my son. I made him happy, I made my wife happy and I was even nice to a Falcons guy.

But I promise you this: I am going to the Kansas City game on Dec. 20. I’ll buy a ticket online, risking family wrath to watch Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champions.

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