200,000 college students to get free COVID-19 tests

Testing students at UAB

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB is working with Bruno Event Team to do an unprecedented amount of COVID-19 testing in a short amount of time.

The pilot test begins this weekend and will be offered at no cost to college students who require a test to go back to class.

The state will pay for testing through CARES Act funds, enabling 200,000 students to be tested for COVID-19.

Students must be tested within two weeks of their return to campus.

“These students will receive an email notification from their university regarding this testing procedure,” said Gene Hollman of Bruno Event Team.

Students can either get tested at a designated location, or through the mail.

“Everlywell will mail a test kit to them with instructions on how to self-collect,” said Dr. Michael Saag, UAB Infectious Diseases

Scanning 200,000 samples isn't easy, so they'll test a bunch at once and go from there.

“If one of the individuals in the ten are positive, then you’ve gotta pull out the whole sample, find all ten people who were in it and test those folks individually,” said Saag.

Dr. Saag wants to emphasize that physical distancing and mask wearing is crucial as students walk back into classrooms.

“There’s a 40 percent likelihood that if you have ten people in a room, just ten, one of those people would be infected,” he said, citing current data.

Following the initial mandatory testing, random testing will be done throughout the fall.

If a student tests positive, they will have to quarantine and will only be allowed on campus with a doctor's clearance.

After the initial July 26 tests, more tests will commence on Aug. 4 at 11 additional sites statewide. Test locations — as well as participating colleges and universities — can be accessed at www.guidesafe.org.

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