Weekly testing put on hold due to extreme weather

On-campus testing, which is currently on hold due to the winter storm, is expected to return in the next few days. Sarah Pinkerton | Photographer

By Rachel Royster | Staff Writer

Baylor’s weekly COVID-19 testing, along with the city’s testing and vaccinations, paused this week due to the winter storm. The testing and city vaccination rollout is expected to as resume as soon as possible.

According to the Waco COVID-19 website, the free city testing was “suspended through February 19th due to inclement weather.”

Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman said the university is “currently working through the logistics of resuming COVID-19 testing on campus and will notify students, faculty and staff when regular weekly testing resumes.”

Dr. Benjamin Ryan, clinical associate professor in the Baylor Environmental Health program, said “everything is expected to start operating as normal come Monday.”

“We haven’t been able to do any testing this week just because of the power outages and for safety reasons due to the weather,” Ryan said, “just like how the city hasn’t done any of its testing or rolled out any of its vaccinations either.”

Although a full week has gone by without any testing done, Ryan said he is unsure if it will effect the COVID-19 results in next week’s testing.

“We really don’t know the effect this week will have on the test results” Ryan said. “It’s hard to speculate what will occur. What we saw this week was unprecedented, where we needed to provide the basics for people’s health and well-being, and that’s been consistent around the state as well, but we have the systems in place to deal with whatever happens next week with our COVID-19 numbers.”

The university is pushing for students, faculty and staff to honor their responsibility to follow the mandatory testing.

“When the testing tents reopen, it is extremely important that students ensure they complete their weekly appointment,” Fogleman said. “That is key to mitigating the spread of the virus on our campus and allowing us to potentially unlock more normalcy. Until testing resumes, please continue to wear your face masks, practice good hygiene and monitor your symptoms.”

If anyone experiences symptoms while the tents are closed, they should call the health center at (254) 710-1010 to schedule a telemedicine appointment.

“I think the key thing is that if anyone has any symptoms, to contact the health center, who will work out a telemedicine appointment with them and work through the processes,” Ryan said. “I encourage people to maintain face covers, good hygiene, hand washing, and social distancing to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading.”