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Health & Medicine

"Just to be safe": UO program offers free saliva-based COVID-19 tests to those feeling slightly symptomatic

students spit and bio hazard.JPG
Tiffany Eckert
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UO sophomores Kennedy Tidd and Aidan Trimvle are roomies. When they awoke feeling cruddy on Tuesday, they went to a McArthur Court ticket booth to get tested for COVID-19,

In response to the Omicron surge, the University of Oregon’s COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program, or MAP, has begun offering free testing to people with mild viral symptoms. KLCC visited the outdoor testing site, which operates safely from an unlikely spot on the campus.

“I’m Hannah Tavalire, Director of Operations for MAP.”

lines and street.JPG
Tiffany Eckert
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KLCC
A line of Lane County residents with mild, cold like symptoms stand on the west side of UO's McArthur Court to get COVID-19 tests from a ticket booth.

KLCC's Tiffany Eckert noted, “We’ve got some testing happening out of a ticket window at of McArthur Court.”

“We’ve started offering testing for people who are showing mild symptoms but don’t think they need a medical evaluation but would like to know their COVID status,” Tavalire said.

ticket booth with test tube.JPG
Tiffany Eckert
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A UO staff tester shows how full of saliva the tube needs to be.

”The person inside the window there is giving what kind of test?” Eckert asked.

“It’s a saliva test. So, you pick up your little tube, you spit into it and you give it back to us,” Tavalire answered.

Standing in this testing line are Kennedy Tidd and Aidan Trimvle. They’re sophomores and roommates at the U of O. This morning they woke up feeling crummy.

Tidd explained, “A lot of our classes are getting canceled. Like, just like they’re not really saying ‘we’re not we’re not doing class for the rest of the term,’ but like everyday it’s like we’re getting emails saying ‘we’re doing class on Zoom today,” and it’s not even just students getting sick-- it’s teachers getting sick too. Just no one is really feeling good. So when we woke up not feeling good we thought, “Alright, I guess it’s our turn just to be safe.”

So, when it is their turn, they walk up to the glassed-in booth and get instructions from a UO staff tester for how to complete the test. “Alright---what I’m ‘gonna have you do here is step out to the other side of my booth. There are X’s on the ground that you can stand on…”

The students open their saliva-based testing kits and coach each other through using the funnel and test tube.

deposit of sample.JPG
Tiffany Eckert
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Kenney Tidd isn't buying a ticket at UO's McArthur Court, she's depositing her PCR saliva COVID-19 test sample.

“Just spit,” one said.

They deposit their tests into biohazard bags and hand them through a slot in the Mac Court ticket window. These students will find out their COVID-19 status in one to four days. But now, they are heading back to their rooms and getting back in bed.

“We did our responsible thing,” Trimvie said. “Thank you!”

the gals .JPG
Tiffany Eckert
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KLCC
Despite feeling poorly this morning, roommates Kennedy Tidd and Aidan Trimvle make each other laugh while in line for a COVID-19 test on the UO campus. They are both sophomores.

All Lane County residents are welcome to get this free COVID-19 testing.

Here’s more information on MAP testing:

People with mild symptoms can get tested at the ticket booths on the west side of McArthur Court, off University Street, between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, on days when MAP is operational.

No appointment is required, but supply is limited. Individuals with symptoms should not enter McArthur Court itself, as the nearby indoor testing is the existing program for asymptomatic individuals only.

People who are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) should continue to use the online registration process and set an appointment time. Walk-ins are permitted, but may have longer wait times, as registered participants have priority.

Participants in MAP testing should anticipate a wait time of around one hour. All tests are saliva tests and results will be provided within 2 to 4 business days, often within 24 hours, via a secure online portal.

The MAP program anticipates offering around 3,000 tests a week with the expansion.