UW-Madison adds saliva-based COVID testing, requires two tests per week

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 12:59 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -UW-Madison is kicking off the Spring semester with a new COVID plan: a saliva-based rapid test is now available to detect cases quickly.

Undergrad students will be required to test twice a week starting Monday, but not everyone is a fan of the new rules.

Off-campus students no longer have access to the nasal swab rapid test, they have to get the saliva-based test. Some students said it takes too much time on an already busy schedule.

Margaret Nelson, senior, said her last year at UW-Madison is bittersweet.

“It’s been really tough at times and really good at times,” Nelson said. “It’s hard to let go of like the fact that I can’t go to football games and the fact that you know classes are a little bit different now,.”

Staying on top of classes is Nelson’s main focus. A new UW-Madison policy adds getting tested twice a week to her to-do list

“As far as like the frequency of it, it is hard to find time during scheduling based on when your classes are and when you have time to go across campus to get tested,” Nelson said.

“It’s awkward, that’s the only way to describe it,” Sarah Lutz, UW-Madison student said.

Lutz already got a saliva-based test. She said she was in line for about ten minutes. She called the process “smooth,” but it will take some getting used to.

“I think one thing that I didn’t like was being in a closed space with a bunch of people with their masks off like drooling. They tell you to drool, but most people are going to end up spitting,” Lutz said.

With the saliva-based test, you can’t drink, eat or chew gum an hour before. If you don’t follow the directions, the sample can be rejected, prompting a re-test.

“We recognize that there is a bit of a learning curve to this new type of testing,” Meredith McGlone, UW-Madison spokesperson said.

UW officials expanded the number of testing sites on campus to 14. McGlone said the saliva-test is just as effective in detecting the coronavirus as the nasal swab PCR test.

“We’re doing everything we can to make the testing process as fast and easy as possible, and we encourage you to work with us,” McGlone said. “The goal here is to keep you, your friends, your family and our broader community safe.”

The students NBC15 spoke to said it may be time consuming, but it’s worth it.

“I think it’s just the climate we’re in right now. Just what we have to do to get through it,” Lutz said.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Nelson said.

Starting on Monday at UW-Madison, undergrad students will be required to prove they’re covid negative to access buildings on campus with a mobile application.

The Badger app won’t show private health information. It allows students and faculty to find testing locations, schedule their covid-19 tests and check their test results. The app also alerts participants if they’ve been in contact with someone with covid-19.

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