UW-Eau Claire organizes free COVID-19 rapid antigen testing site for the community

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Medical professionals and volunteers spent today at Memorial High School running a drive-thru rapid antigen COVID-19 testing site. The free tests are organized by UW-Eau Claire and open to the community. First News at Nine’s Max Cotton was at the site and shows us the testing process.

UW-Eau Claire and Rhino Medical supplies have teamed up to screen the community for COVID-19.

Aleah Sauter, the site medical lead, said, “It takes about 15 minutes to get the results. It’s great, people can wait here and get their results and that way people can head home and know exactly what they’re working.”

A team of medical professionals administer and run the abott binax-now tests.

Sauter says the process doesn’t take very long.

“We have a few different stops to make sure that you are registered here for the site and we have one of our medical staff run you through the process. It’s very fast. It takes about five seconds in each nostril,” said Sauter.

When you get tested you take your own sample. That means you take this cotton swab and put it in each nostril about an inch deep and swirl it five times. People then wait for results in the parking lot.

While waiting, the swab is tested for a protein indicating the person has the virus.

Sauter said, “It’s a very very simple style test. It actually reads like a pregnancy test where one line is negative, two lines is positive. We put a couple drops into, it looks like a book almost.  And it’s very easy to enter the swab into that little cardboard book and then wait that 15 minutes and that’s it.”

Fortunately, my rapid antigen test came back negative.

If a person without symptoms tests positive, or a person showing symptoms tests negative, they are required to get a PCR test on site.

“The PCR is more of a genetic style of testing where they’re looking for a lot smaller traces of covid,” said Sauter.

Sauter says it takes three to five days to get those results, and volunteers like Grace Holldorf are glad to be doing they’re part keeping the community safe.

Grace Holldorf, testing site volunteer said, “I’m glad that so many people are deciding to get tested because I think it’s important to definitely fight this virus that’s going around.”

But testing negative without showing symptoms isn’t a free pass to ignore safety protocols.

Sauter said, “This negative is not a fool proof way of getting a negative in order for people to go off and then start congregating in groups or have parties or with their families as hard as that may be because you could be negative one day and the next day you could not be.”

In Eau Claire, Max Cotton, First News at Nine.

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