Features + Saw It On Social

Saw It On Social, COVID Edition: Pixel Labs

If you follow me on Instagram or read the #BreakThings newsletter, you know that Kyle and I were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week.  We caught it while dining in one of those plastic igloos that have popped up on sidewalks and patios all over the city.  If you were thinking that dining in one might be safe, I wish I had seen this Today Show article before I booked the reservation.

Kyle got sick first.  A stomach bug, probably from bad takeout sushi.  No big deal, he thought.  But the next day, he was sneezing like crazy and had a headache he couldn’t shake.

By the third day, he had full-blown cold symptoms.  That’s when I started feeling unwell.  Just a sniffle when I woke up, but by mid-day, I was so tired that I kept falling asleep at my desk.

Over the next few days, Kyle’s symptoms got worse and then better.  My only persistent symptom was the exhaustion.  Just getting out of bed in the morning felt impossible.  Then, the other couple we had dinner with called, they tested positive for COVID-19.

I called urgent care.  They would test Kyle because he had symptoms, but they refused to test me.  So he went for a test, and we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Until I got sick of waiting.

That’s when I went to the Pixel Labs website.  It had popped up in my Instagram feed many times, so I thought why not give it a try?

Before we start, let me remind you that I am not a doctor.  This post is not medical advice.  I’m just a girl who got caught up in a global pandemic and a broken healthcare system, and wanted to know whether her sniffle was more than just a cold.  Here we go.

I ordered my Pixel LabCorp At-Home Test on a Monday morning.  It arrived on Tuesday.

Opening the box, I was instructed to register my kit.  Once that was completed, I washed my hands, and following the instructions, swabbed my nostrils, placed the swab in the tube, and sealed everything back up.

I called FedEx for pickup, and my sample left same day.  It arrived at Pixel on Wednesday and I woke up to my result on Friday.

What I liked about Pixel was that the user experience was very well thought out.  When it came time to call FedEx to mail the sample back, the provided card walked me through every question asked by the automated system, and every question asked by the operator.  It was so nice not to have to sort out the pick-up process myself.  All I had to do was follow the directions.

As for cost, Pixel billed my insurance, but the test would cost $119.

I was happy with the ease of using the test, the quick turnaround time, and the simplicity of the process.  And I hope that none of you ever need one, but if you do, I recommend the Pixel Test wholeheartedly.

As for myself, after having few symptoms beyond crippling exhaustion, I suddenly developed shortness of breath on the 13th day. I climbed a flight of stairs and almost didn’t make it to the top.  That persisted for a few more days.  Today, I’m feeling better, but still headed to the doctor for a second test and a chest X-ray.

Bottom line, you do not want to catch COVID.  The symptoms are wildly unpredictable.  One of my good friends was literally released after six days in the hospital on oxygen, blood thinners and steroids the day we got sick.  I now know more than a dozen people who have had COVID, and no one symptoms have been the same.

Kyle and I have been pretty diligent about staying safe.  We’ve radically changed our lives since the start of the pandemic.  But after eight months, we tried to take a calculated risk so that we could stay mentally healthy.

We chose a venue that was disinfecting the igloos after every guest (I know now that spray disinfectant isn’t very effective when there’s no HVAC system to move the air around).  We went with people who were socially distancing and wearing masks just like we were.  We even wore masks in the igloo when we weren’t eating or drinking.  But it didn’t matter.  We let our guard down just a little, and we caught COVID.

One in 378 Americans tested positive for COVID over the past week.  We’re now statistics who are grateful to be alive and worried about further complications, but you don’t have to join us.  Wash your hands.  Wear a mask.  Stay home as much as possible, and stay socially distant when it’s not.

As for me, I’m taking today off from my blog responsibilities to heal and catch up on responsibilities at my day job.  See you tomorrow.

Saw It On Social is a review series for the products that fill our social feeds with ads.  Because these products are so often gifted to influencers, you can never be sure if the rave reviews are genuine or sponsor-hype.  Every product reviewed is purchased with my own money, no gifts are requested and no sponsor payments are accepted before or after.  



  1. Paula says:

    So glad you are feeling better.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  2. KLC says:

    I really appreciate you sharing your experience and for talking about pandemic fatigue. It is incredibly real, and even those who were incredibly diligent at the beginning of the Pandemic, are experiencing it. Feel better soon!

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  3. aileens says:

    So glad to read that you’re feeling better and yes, aerosol transmission seems to be a real thing. As a pharma and diagnostics person, I wanted to point out that Pixel Labs is owned by LabCorp, one of the two behemoth testing labs in the US (the other is Quest Diagnostics) so it should be reputable. Also, the Pixel Labs test is NOT an antigen test, those have not been approved – this is a PCR test like all the others available right now (see the details in their emergency use authorization document https://www.fda.gov/media/136151/download). While I don’t have the time to dig through the document in all its excruciating detail, it likely has the same limitations as in-person testing.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
    • JO says:

      Your comment is important – this is definitely a PCR test!

      December 3, 2020/Reply
  4. Rebecca says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since you were a hill staffer, and I was jealous of jobs that called for pretty clothes. I’m in a similar boat with my family right now – something about your words is comforting and has made me feel less alone. Please take care and I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  5. MonicA T says:

    I hope both you and Kyle continue to recover and feel better soon!

    The poor testing experience is still shocking to me, every other developed nation in the world is somehow doing constant testing and contact tracing and we’re….waiting a week for results?

    November 16, 2020/Reply
    • Kate B says:

      Yes, for contrast I am in Australia and have had 5 free COVID tests, they encourage everyone who has had contact or has any symptoms at all to test. You turn up at one of many clinics, wait around half an hour, and then get your results usually by the next day by text or email (someone from our public health dept calls if you are positive to start the tracing process). If you work in health or aged care, are a teacher etc you get your results even quicker.

      Glad to hear you are taking some time to recover Abra, I hope your symptoms don’t linger too long.

      November 17, 2020/Reply
  6. Laura says:

    When you feel well enough to post again…how long was it between the dinner and when Kyle and you got sick? I know you addressed this on your IG stories but that’s gone now. I’m just curious to know the different incubation times for different people….some people I know have gotten sick 1-2 days after exposure, some longer.

    Good luck and get well soon!

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  7. kaitlyn v says:

    Little announcement – If you donate blood to the Red Cross (google and find an appointment, very easy to do) they will test for the Covid antibodies. While not fool-proof, it’s something you can do to help others and possibly find out if you’ve had it already.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  8. Heather says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. So glad you are both feeling better; hopefully you continue to improve.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  9. Debbie says:

    Dang. Was it Davenport or Luna?

    November 16, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:


      November 16, 2020/Reply
  10. SG says:

    I hope you all are feeling better soon, and fingers crossed for no longer-term effects!

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  11. Jules says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I couldn’t help but read this and feel incredible frustration that as a person who had direct exposure you were denied a test but celebrities can use and abuse testing resources so they can continue to party.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  12. Karen says:

    Good lord. Thank you so much for posting this. So sorry you and Kyle came down with it, but truly appreciate you sharing your experience. Like everyone else taking this seriously, I find myself forgetting/lapsing, taking chances that I don’t think are chances at the time. Stories like yours are a reminder to be vigilant. I hope you folks get better soon. Please keep us posted.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  13. Amanda Katherine Komuro says:

    So glad to hear you’re on the mend, and yikes what a powerful story about the danger those enclosures create. Thank you for sharing your experience – you have such a diverse readership and in these crazy times its the stories from people you “know” that can make the difference in how serious people consider this pandemic.
    Feel better and rest up! We’ll still be here when you’re well.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  14. Christine S. says:

    I am so, so sorry to hear that. I really hope you and Kyle have a smooth recovery! I tested positive for COVID back in March and had a rough go of it (my shortness of breath lingered for about four months). Take your time to rest for now and then start easing back into exercising or even just walks around your house when you can, in order to build your lungs back up. Definitely advocate for yourself at the doctor – a daily controller inhaler like Alvesco played a huge role in me starting to be able to function normally again. You may not need anything like that but hopefully they’re thinking about any medication you can take to improve any lasting symptoms! Sending you lots of positive thoughts.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  15. Susan says:

    Oh my! I hope you are feeling better, and that both of you get well and have no long term effects.

    Do you think you got it from the people who dined before you? Or the wait staff? Or your diner companions?

    Just curious, as one who wants to eat in one of those igloos….might be off the table now.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
    • Ellie says:

      Not Belle, but if you read the today show article it’s really about who you’re dining with. Presumably the waiter was wearing a mask, and lingering COVID from previous diners isn’t really an issue, it’s that the igloos are contained (so basically indoors) so if you’re dining with someone who is asymptomatic, you can very well get COVID – you have to take off your mask to eat and drink. The benefit of the igloos is that of course you’re more contained from OTHER diners.

      November 16, 2020/Reply
      • Nellie says:

        COVID also lingers in the air. Wiping down the surfaces won’t help if the diners sitting there previously had it.

        November 18, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I wouldn’t repeat this decision. Regardless of whether it was our guests or the staff or previous diners, a friend pointed out that it may actually be more dangerous than indoors because there is no air circulation without HVAC.

      November 16, 2020/Reply
  16. Tiffany says:

    Wishing you and Kyle well, and thank you for sharing this.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  17. M says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad you’re feeling better.

    November 16, 2020/Reply
  18. Amanda says:

    Abra, I’m so sorry to hear you & Kyle were sick and I hope you’re feeling better. I hear the exhaustion can stick around.
    The US numbers are frightening! I’m lucky I’m in a country where there are less than 100 care in my country and we’re still hesitant of being out and about.
    I’m so weirded out you have to pay for a COVID test and my fingers are crossed you feel better – and your healthcare system looks after you all!

    November 17, 2020/Reply
  19. RKT says:

    So sorry to read that you are going through this, and hope that your recovery is rapid and smooth. Another option if anyone needs to order a test for themselves at home is Vault, which one of the orgs I work with has been using for its people. https://www.vaulthealth.com/covid It’s a saliva test, so a little different than the nasal swabs. Not cheap, but if you find yourself in Abra’s frustrating situation, it’s an option.

    November 17, 2020/Reply
  20. Catherine Truong says:

    Hi Abra,

    Wishing you and Kyle a speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing your experience
    with us and raising the alarm bell on the some of the outdoor enclosures that I’ve seen so much of.

    Being an engineer and working with buildings from a building envelope and understanding air and moisture flow, I worried about how those outdoor enclosure with more than 2 sides can be safe.

    Hubby and I have really limited our dining out except for true outdoor patios, and even then, we knew that we were taking a risk. This just solidifies my position that Christmas will have to be different this year. Both my in-laws are high-risk with pre-existing conditions, and unfortunately, they are the ones who seem to think that COVID is bad, but it won’t affect them.

    November 17, 2020/Reply
  21. Emily says:

    I’m so sorry you and Kyle are sick, and I hope you feel better very soon!

    I’m also glad that you had a good experience with Pixel. I ordered a kit, and it’s been an awful experience. It took two full business days after I placed my order to arrive and arrived so late today (5 hours past the due time) that I’ve missed the FedEx pickup window. Also, the instructions they listed for FedEx didn’t workl–either FedEx has changed their questions or Pixel needs to update their instructions. So all in all, it’s going to take over a week to get my results, which kind of messes up my Thanksgiving plans. Insult to injury for sure!

    November 18, 2020/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Maybe they’ve gotten busier since cases are up? Regardless, sorry to hear this.

      November 18, 2020/Reply
      • Emily says:

        Could be. I shouldn’t be so cranky about it, but I’m having a hard time being patient!

        Hope you’re on the mend!

        November 18, 2020/Reply
  22. Katharine says:

    I’m so sorry you and Kyle had to deal with this! I hope you can be extra gentle with yourself as you recover because it truly can be a marathon. My husband and I had it in April (he was asymptomatic, I was not) and seven months later, exercising is still a struggle in reduced lung capacity for both of us. I hope you’re feeling better as quickly as possible, but in the meantime, keep doing what you need to give your body time to heal!

    November 19, 2020/Reply
  23. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Your story will help me stay vigilant when struggling with pandemic fatigue. Sending you healing thoughts! Hope you return to full health soon!

    November 20, 2020/Reply
  24. LAne says:

    I would like to co-sign Abra’s experience – the most 2020 thing ever is probably to have been influenced by a blog to try a COVID test, but I just did and the user experience and time frame was excellent. I actually had COVID this summer, so in theory I should still have some immunity and the chances of me getting re-infected were small, but I caught a cold that mimicked mild COVID symptoms enough to freak me out, especially since I am supposed to have Thanksgiving with my parents (a tiny gathering, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk since they are older). I ordered the test on Monday, just got my results today. Absolutely great user experience and turnaround time. How often can you say a SIOS actually saved someone’s holiday?

    November 20, 2020/Reply
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