Registration is now open for St. Thomas’ second free COVID-19 mass testing scheduled for Dec. 8 at the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex (AARC) field house. Additionally, another event will take place on Dec. 17 to allow community members to be tested prior to the university’s winter break. The events are the result of a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Center for Well-Being.
More than 2,300 people participated in last month’s pre-Thanksgiving mass testing event, which resulted in a 3.6% positivity rate, compared to Minnesota’s 11.2% positivity rate as of Nov. 22.
“I am thankful to the St. Thomas community for advancing the common good by practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and following other health and safety protocols,” Center for Well-Being Executive Director Madonna McDermott said. “As we all grow weary of the COVID pandemic, it is critical that everyone continues to do our part in decreasing the transmission of this virus. With planning for vaccine distribution underway, the end is in sight. However, students, faculty and staff must continue to be vigilant until there is herd immunity.”
St. Thomas community members can again receive a free saliva PCR test from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in the AARC field house on Tuesday, Dec. 8, and Thursday, Dec. 17. Flu clinics will run simultaneously. Registration for the Dec. 8 event is now open.
The tests are made possible through the state of Minnesota’s partnership with Vault Health. St. Thomas also is part of an MDH pilot study using Abbott's BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen test, which offers results in 15 minutes. The pilot involves comparing these test results with results from the gold standard PCR test for those with symptoms, followed by ongoing supply for this type of testing for symptomatic individuals.
“Our partnership as a university with MDH has been invaluable. We are fortunate to have one of the best state public health departments in the nation,” McDermott said. “Early in the pandemic, MDH created a subgroup specifically to address the needs of higher education, providing weekly conference meetings, guidelines, and consultation for colleges and universities. In addition, MDH has provided us access to personal protective equipment and increased testing.”