Starting this Friday, free Covid-19 testing will be available to students, faculty, and staff of West Texas A&M University (WT). Tests will be given by appointment between 9am and 11am on Friday, July 24, in the Virgil Henson Activities Center. WT has set up a central location for the testing, which will consist of a simple, painless mouth swab monitored by trained personnel.

After July 24, tests are available for any student by appointment. Additionally, faculty and staff are encouraged to get tested if they experience Covid-19 symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to someone with Covid-19. Close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being within 6 feet of someone with Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes at any time, beginning 48 hours before the individual had symptoms, regardless of wearing a face mask.

Approximately 15,000 test kits, around 10 percent of the A&M system’s total student population, will be distributed to system campuses each month. Each campus will receive a monthly supply of tests determined by the system, so WT will get about 1,000 tests per month, said Todd Rasberry, vice president for philanthropy and external relations.

“WT is pleased that The Texas A&M University System is moving forward with increased accessibility and availability of COVID-19 testing,” Rasberry said. “We anticipate that we’ll be able to move forward soon with a streamlined testing system that will help us return to campus safely and securely in time for the Aug. 24 beginning of the fall semester.”

Ensuring the health and safety of students is the top priority, said John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.

“Facilitating increased accessibility and availability of COVID-19 testing will help us mitigate the spread and help to protect each other by taking preventative and proactive measures,” Sharp said.

The testing is possible thanks to an agreement Chancellor Sharp negotiated with Curative Inc., a national testing company based in California. Curative has committed to turning around lab results within 30 hours from when the sample arrives at their lab. To date, Curative has released more than 1.2 million test results and is processing 55 to 60 thousand test kits per day with plenty of capacity. A major benefit of the Curative testing system is it is a turn-key operation, offering tests, shipping, processing and a software system that collects and reports results.

While the tests are free, those who have insurance are encouraged to use their primary care physician to access the test so that their test can be paid for by insurance.

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