Coronavirus live updates: U.S. cases pass 1 million as Trump orders meat packing plants to stay open

RICHMOND — Tiffany Smith tilted her head way back, sending her long ponytail almost to her waist and allowing a nurse to stick a cotton swab up one nostril, then another.

“Oh, damn!” she said, wiping her nose after undergoing a free coronavirus test in an east Richmond parking lot. “Whoo!”

Though she hated how it felt, Smith, 47, had been seeking the nasal swab since she and her husband started having fevers, coughs, sweats and headaches about a week ago. Smith works at an assisted-living facility, where a co-worker caught the novel coronavirus. She and Charles, a self-employed barber, are uninsured, and the cost of tests at a private clinic was too steep.

“Patient First was talking, like, $90,” said Smith, who worries that if she and Charles have the virus, their five children could be next. One has been running a fever.

The Smiths got their tests Tuesday at Eastlawn Shopping Center, a forlorn plaza anchored by a shuttered Food Circus. Next door sits Creighton Court, a troubled public housing complex that the city would like to demolish.

But on this day, with dozens of medical personnel and volunteers decked out in masks, face shields and bright gowns, the site offered a possible way out of the pandemic — for a city where 13 out of 14 coronavirus fatalities have been African Americans, and for a state where testing has lagged most of the nation.

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