National Guard administers 135 COVID-19 tests in two days

Members equipped with suits, face shields; center relocated to ride-share parking lot today



National Guard testing site relocated to a ride-share parking lot located by the Chief Joseph Village apartments and the Valley Road Playfields.


The Washington National Guard administered 45 COVID-19 tests at the Steptoe Village Apartments on Wednesday and 90 on Tuesday, but the testing location will change today where they will remain for the rest of the week.

The National Guard has relocated from the upper parking lot of Steptoe Village Apartments to a ride-share parking lot located by the Chief Joseph Village apartments and the Valley Road Playfields, said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communications. The change is due to the site’s lack of street visibility at the previous location.

Starting today, they will be testing at the new location through the end of the week, Weiler said.

“We want to see if we get more traffic there than we did at the Steptoe Apartments,” he said.

Weiler said the testing site location may change again, possibly near the Cougs Corner Mart and Azia parking lots.

Results from tests administered at the National Guard or Cougar Health Services sites can be expected within 24 to 48 hours, Weiler said.

The National Guard unit is taking precautions to keep the students and testers safe, he said. National Guard members are equipped with Tyvek suits, gloves and face shields. The 26-member unit is also assigned a healthcare professional to ensure the guards are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Weiler said.

A total of 813 students have been tested since last Wednesday, he said.

He said the William A. Crosetto Mobile Health Care Unit and Cougar Health Services tested a total of 573 students from Wednesday through Friday before Labor Day. The mobile health unit was stationed near WSU President Kirk Schulz’ residence on Greek Row.

“This is not a one-time event,” Weiler said, “students need to continue to be tested throughout the academic semester.”

Twenty-six new people have tested positive for COVID-19, five of which are over the age of 30. The total number of positive cases for the county has reached 870, according to Wednesday’s press release from the Whitman County Department of Health.

One person who tested positive lives in an assisted living facility in Pullman, said Troy Henderson, Whitman County director of public health.

Local mandates restricting social intermingling to reduce the potential spread of the virus are not yet being considered, he said.

“We may implement the existing plan, but we’re not ready to do that today,” Henderson said. “We’re still watching it very closely.”

Any measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 will most likely be localized to Pullman, such as closing in-person dining and entertainment venues, he said.

He said one of the new cases is a student living in a WSU dorm.

Students living in residence halls who test positive for COVID-19 will be isolated in McEachern Hall, Weiler said. McEachern is the designated hall for self-isolation because every unit has a private bathroom.

He said WSU staff check in with self-isolating students on a daily basis and will deliver resources like food.

“If there’s other needs that they might have, like laundry, [the staff] can help make sure that students get what they need so they don’t have any reason to leave that room until they’ve completed their isolation period,” Weiler said.