ROBERT HUBNER | WSU PHOTO SERVICES
The National Guard will stay in Pullman to help with COVID-19 testing one month longer than expected, until Dec. 17.
The extended date will increase testing capacity for WSU and enable students to get tested before traveling home for Thanksgiving, said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communications.
“Students who are going home for the holidays — they can have some level of comfort that they are not positive and they aren’t going to be infecting their family and loved ones,” Weiler said.
As of Monday, the National Guard has administered 3,226 COVID-19 tests out of the 8,076 total tests for WSU students, faculty members and staff, he said.
The other tests were administered by Cougar Health Services and the WSU mobile health unit. The positivity rate is about 5 percent, Weiler said.
Student-athletes are excluded from those numbers. They have their own COVID-19 testing protocol set in place by the Pac-12, he said.
The university is unsure whether the National Guard will return to Pullman for the spring semester, Weiler said.
“We’re trying to work through the federal government to see if that might be an option because [the National Guard] is willing to stay,” he said.
The federal government pays for National Guard staff time while WSU pays for the tests themselves, which run about $100-125 apiece, Weiler said.
Weiler said he believes testing is necessary despite its high cost.
“There are certain times you have to spend money for the health and safety of your students, faculty and staff,” he said. “This is one of those times.”