COVID Testing, Part Two

COVID+Testing%2C+Part+Two

Elizabeth Funderburk, Staff Writer

October is here, and that means one thing…it’s spooky season COVID season (yes, still, even after all these months)! And since infectious diseases don’t get scared away on Halloween, the huge focus on health continuesand for good reason; this virus can be deadly. One of the best ways to keep track of the overall health on campus is through testing. That’s why Austin College began random COVID testing on October 1.

So how will this work? In September, the students and professors of Austin College were required to get a COVID test. (Fortunately, the vast majority of people on campus tested negative, with only eight positive results. As of October 11, 2020, there are seven active cases on campus.) Dr. Lynn Womble,  Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, explains that random testing will be similar to the first round of testing in that every student will be tested at some point, the testing occurs in the same location, and the method of testing remains the same. However, a smaller number of students will be tested per day and the timeframe will be more spread out. She adds that 50 students and 25 faculty and staff members will be tested [each] day.

Although the specific testing dates are different for everyone, the general idea is that each person will be tested once a month. “Every student and faculty member should have gotten tested at least twice by November 20,” says Dr. Saritha Bangara, a Professor of Public Health and the Co-Director of the Public Health program. “We’re looking at one test for October and one in November.”

Bangara explains that the first round of testing was done to get a baseline number, and notes that random testing ensures that everyone continues to be cautious. She stresses that mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing are essential to limiting the spread of COVID, regardless of testing.

Womble assured that testing will continue to be free for everyone on campus. “We are very lucky to have this resource,” Dr. Bangara adds. Monitoring the coronavirus is absolutely necessary for colleges to remain open, and Austin College is fortunate to be able to offer free tests to everyone.