TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona is ramping up COVID-19 testing with students living in dorms now required to test twice a week.
University President Dr. Robert Robbins says expanded testing is a key tool in curbing the spread of disease, and he hopes regular testing becomes available for the rest of the community. Officials says the saline gargle test is more accurate, more comfortable, and less expensive than the nasal swab tests. After a gargle and spit, students send the test to a lab for results.
“It allows us to triple our testing, it allows us to go from about 1,000 a week to 3,000 a week,” said President Dr. Robert Robbins.
The downside to the PCR style test is depending on a lab for results. Robbins says that is a major obstacle in getting weekly tests out to the general public.
“Imagine if we tried to test a million people in the county every day,” said Dr. Robbins. “We just don’t have the capacity to physically run the PCR, but I'd love to see that expanded into the community.”
Robbins says a future tool for fighting COVID-19 might come in the form of a different kind of test. For a few dollars an at-home rapid antigen test could tell people if they are positive for COVID-19 in minutes.
“I saw a test and it's coming soon to a drugstore over the counter near you,” said Dr. Robbins.
While Robbins has hopes expanded testing will become more available for everyone in the near future, he says until then the same COVID-19 safety measures need to be followed. Wash your hands, social distance, stay home if you are sick.
“We’ve got to just continue to bear down until we get through this.”