Community members can self-administer nasal swab tests under supervision from eTrueNorth personnel. The site is open from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Photo by Jean Germano

By Michael Michelizzi and Jean Germano

In a message to the campus community on Feb. 9, Chancellor Renée Wachter announced the return of community COVID-19 testing to the UWS campus. The site, which originally closed in January, offers self-administered Abbot BinaxNow antigen tests which provide results in approximately 15 minutes.

The re-opening of the site took place this past Monday, Feb. 15. Krisi Patterson, the Director of Campus Recreation who also coordinates testing operations, noted that the first day saw 82 tests administered over the four hours of operation. This number is lower than the average of 116/day prior to closing, and much lower than the 200+/day that the site saw during its peak.

“We are set up to test up to 100 people a day, [but] we highly recommend that people set up vouchers in advance as we can’t guarantee being able to test walk-ins,” Patterson noted.

Healthcare workers stand behind a table at the testing site in the Mertz Motorelli Gym. The site utilizes the Abbot BinaxNow antigen test, which can provide results in around 15 minutes.

The old community testing site inside the Mertz Mortorelli Gym. The old site closed down in January, testing 200+ people/day at its peak.
File Photo by Promethean Staff

The site was reopened after the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) completed an assessment of testing facilities statewide. “Based on their findings and our proven ability to conduct mass testing in a safe, efficient and friendly environment, DHS requested that we reopen our COVID-19 community testing site. We are honored to continue serving our community in this capacity and to help the state meet its COVID-19 testing needs,” said Dean of Students Harry Anderson in a statement.

The site was moved from its original location inside the Mertz Mortorelli Gym to a new location inside the Marcovich Wellness Center. “The location was moved to limit the inconvenience to students,” noted Patterson. “This is a low-traffic part of the building where students should be able to avoid contact with those getting tested.”

Patterson also noted that community members are not always aware of the testing options in their area, referencing the testing site at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC), which is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. “Most people are grateful for the opportunity to have it [testing] here…we’re expecting some people to cross the bridge those days.”

Parking is also being designated for the community testing center. 10 spots in the front row of lot 13 near the MWC will be blocked off for the testing site. Parking Services asks that students and employees do not park between the sandwich boards on the sidewalk, warning that tickets will be issued to permit holders found in these spots.

While the testing site is open for the community, both students and employees can receive free COVID-19 testing in the Yellowjacket Union. Information, including registration and FAQs can be found on the University’s spring 2021 microsite.

The community testing site is open Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. The site is open to anyone five years of age or older, regardless of symptoms. More information, including how to schedule an appointment, can be found online.