Texas A&M now has three free walk-up COVID-19 testing kiosks available for anyone in the state to utilize.
On Oct. 12, A&M opened the first two COVID-19 testing kiosks on campus outside of the Memorial Student Center and the Commons. A third kiosk opened the week of Oct. 19 outside of the Mays Business School. The kiosks offer free, self-administered tests to anyone who walks up between Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Individuals are given the same oral swab tests that are available at Student Health Services and through A&M’s Random Testing Program, Director of Student Health Services Dr. Martha Dannenbaum said.
Unlike the Curative Inc. tent and Beutel Health Center, members outside of the A&M community are welcome to utilize the kiosks, Dannenbaum said.
“Not only can faculty, staff and students take advantage, but other individuals can as well,” Dannenbaum said. “I think particularly of our SSC and Chartwells staff who are not A&M employees but are integral to our campus, so this allows them access to testing as well.”
Dannenbaum said the kiosks are a part of A&M’s partnership with Curative, Inc., a California-based national testing company that originally tested the kiosks at the University of California-Berkeley.
The kiosks have built-in up to 400 tests per day at each station, Dannenbaum said, which helps to maintain the campus’s main supply of COVID-19 tests funded by the A&M System.
Dr. Angela Clendenin, director of the Brazos Valley COVID Investigation Operations Center and instructional assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said the kiosks were implemented to increase accessibility to COVID-19 testing and are a part of A&M’s comprehensive surveillance program to identify the spread of the virus among the campus community.
"If you can make tests available to people who're thinking they've been exposed and it's a little easier to get a test, then they’re more likely to do it,” Clendenin said. “Having these kiosks in areas that a lot of people will traffic through — given the number of people on our campus right now — it makes it easier.”
In addition to the testing kiosks, Clendenin said Curative also has a mobile van that offers walk-up testing.
"It's actually been in the Aggie Fan Zone before football games,” Clendenin said. “It just gives us some flexibility where, if you can't come to get a test at a testing site, then we can bring that to you."
Clendenin said A&M’s partnerships with Curative and the Brazos County Health Department have helped identify the spread of COVID-19 both on campus and in the wider community.
“We want to get to a point where we can provide the best educational experience for our faculty, staff and students that we possibly can,” Clendenin said. “You can't do that without an aggressive testing strategy, and you can't have an aggressive testing strategy if people can't get tested because they don't have access."
Dannenbaum said there was originally concern that the campus wouldn’t have enough tests to meet the high demand early on in August and September. However, the addition of the testing kiosks has ensured there is enough testing availability on campus along with the tests administered at the SHS medical tents and through the Random Testing Program.
“There's no reason somebody can't get a test on our campus,” Dannenbaum said. “There's plenty of opportunity, and it doesn't cost.”