COVID on campus

UW-Eau Claire now offering antigen testing for off-campus students

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The news column “COVID on campus” posts relevant COVID-19 news every week for UWEC students.

UW-Eau Claire students living off-campus received an email on Wednesday, Oct. 14 about their eligibility to receive antigen testing on campus.

By utilizing the IM Leagues app on Apple Store and Google Play, off-campus students are able to set up an appointment for an antigen test. Otherwise, students can also go to the university recreation site and register there. 

“All students were emailed that if they can’t figure it out, (they can) just walk in and we’ll help them get registered their first time,” Jodi Thesing-Ritter, the executive director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said. “We don’t want it getting to where we prevent people from coming.”

Thesing-Ritter said the testing staff have found that they have the capacity to test off-campus students alongside on-campus students. She said testing off-campus students will make it easier for students to work in the community.

“Particularly those who are in high contact settings,” Thesing-Ritter said, “such as student teaching, people working in internships and practicums that involve working with at-risk populations.”

According to Thesing-Ritter, the UW System originally allocated the tests to be for on-campus students to help control outbreaks on campus. Later, the UW System opened it up so that UW campuses could use the testing at their discretion.

“Our chancellor worked with the health department to identify the next area of most need,” Thesing-Ritter said. “That was with students in those high-touch employment and opportunities.”

Thesing-Ritter said they originally were going to target those students; however, it was difficult to assess just who those students were.

This led to the decision to open up testing to all students. Students who are in those high-touch environments are encouraged to utilize the antigen testing. 

“I did expect that we would have more students participate,” Thesing-Ritter said. “We are hoping to encourage students to participate because we’d like to maximize our testing and right now, we’re not testing as many students as we’re able.”

Thesing-Ritter said they can test up to 600 people per day, but are only getting about 400 people coming in. 

In other news, as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, there is one new positive student case of COVID-19 at the UW-Eau Claire campus. 245 tests were given, with a positivity rate of 0.4%.

According to the UWEC COVID-19 dashboard, the cumulative number of positive student cases now rests at 323 cases — an increase of 41 cases since last week. 

The information from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department reports 39 new student-related positive cases as of 10:15 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 19. There is also one new staff-connected positive case of COVID-19.

The cumulative number of UWEC-connected positive student cases is now at 511 cases. With the UWEC staff-connected cases increasing by one case since last week, that total is now nine staff-connected cases.

According to the Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub, 2,736 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. 

The death count has increased by two cases since last week, bringing the total to 11 deaths due to COVID-19 in Eau Claire County. 

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].