National Guard will test WSU students at Steptoe Village Apartments

Appointments are not necessary; students without insurance can expect WSU to pay for testing



Students need to bring their student ID numbers and insurance information, if they have it.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

The National Guard will begin testing only WSU students, even if they are asymptomatic, without appointments in the upper parking lot of the Steptoe Village Apartments on Sept. 8. 

Testing will tentatively start at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. so as many students can be tested as possible. A National Guard unit of 25 members will test Tuesdays through Saturdays, said Phil Weiler, WSU’s vice president for marketing and communications. Although it hasn’t been specified how long the National Guard will be in Pullman, Weiler said they’ll be in town as long as they are needed.

Weiler said students will need to have their student ID numbers and insurance information to share with a staff member. Students with insurance will not have to pay a co-pay. If a student does not have insurance, WSU will cover the cost of testing, which otherwise would be $99.

The National Guard’s presence is expected to speed up the testing process because they have the capacity to collect hundreds of samples.

“It’s really, really critical that students take advantage of this,” Weiler said. “If we don’t end up getting ahead of this, we’re going to continue to see that the numbers of positives increase. We run the risk of it getting out of the student population to the general population, and then we run the risk of people dying from this illness.”

The method of testing has not been decided yet. Students will either walk up or drive through to do the testing, Weiler said. 

The National Guard members will collect nose tissue samples, send the samples to the WSU One Health Diagnostics lab and inform people of their test results, he said.

There will be two test methods available, Weiler said. In the first method, the cotton swab is inserted high up into the sinuses. In the second option, the cotton swab is put just inside the nostril. Both test methods are equally reliable, he said.

The National Guard’s testing location will be 1630 NE Valley Rd., Weiler said. To test at that location, the National Guard had to work with a private property owner to set up the testing unit.

In an effort to decrease COVID-19 cases, students should not gather in large groups or travel over Labor Day weekend, Weiler said.