OLIVER MCKENNA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU officials made the announcement in July to hold classes on a virtual format in an attempt to prevent a surge of COVID-19 cases. Despite those efforts, cases soared as students returned, putting Pullman on the map as a COVID-19 hotspot and prompting officials to plan testing sites around town.
On its first day in Pullman, a mobile healthcare unit tested 134 WSU students for COVID-19, conducting over fifty more tests than university and health officials expected. The university began on-campus testing Wednesday and health officials will continue testing until Friday near the Greek Row area.
The mobile healthcare unit will temporarily support testing capacity on campus now until Friday, said Christina VerHeul, director of communications and marketing for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. It is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Friday.
The Willam A. Crosetto Mobile Health Care Unit will temporarily support testing capacity on campus until Friday, VerHeul said.
Range Health is supplying the unit from Spokane, she said. Range Health is a non-profit academic health network launched by the college of medicine.
The mobile unit is stationed by WSU President Kirk Schulz’s house, said Phil Weiler, WSU’s vice resident for marketing and communications. The mobile unit will be able to conduct about 80 tests per day.
The mobile unit is the first step in a three-part plan to increase testing capacity. It will serve as a way to bridge the gap in testing until the new on-campus facility is operational, he said.
The second part of the plan will begin with the opening of the new testing facility on Sept. 15, he said. The facility will operate as an extension to the Washington Building, where Cougar Health Services is located.
Pullman Regional Hospital is also testing individuals for COVID-19, according to The Daily Evergreen.
The final part of the plan involves the Washington National Guard arriving on campus Sept. 8, Weiler said. The National Guard will survey and plan for their own temporary testing site.
Students do not need to make appointments for the mobile unit, Weiler said, but their insurance information is required.
“We really want to try and take the tests to the students as opposed to making the students have to travel too far to get the test,” he said.
Faculty and volunteers will help administer tests and collect samples, VerHeul said. The samples will be analyzed by separate vendors.
The new facility should be able to conduct at least 100 tests per day, Weiler said. He said the National Guard estimated they will be able to conduct several hundred tests per day.
Students will get their test results back within 24 to 48 hours depending on how early in the day they receive testing, he said. Currently, these facilities are planned to be used for just WSU students.
“Demographics of the positive cases, they are, by and large, college-age adults. That’s the group we really need to get on top of quickly,” Weiler said.