UAFS to begin COVID-19 testing with new rapid testing machine

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,217 views 

Nurse Practitioner Anastasia Wilson administers a nasal swab at the drive-through COVID-19 testing site on the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Campus.

The University of Arkansas at Fort Smith will begin on campus COVID-19 testing Tuesday (Oct. 6). The drive-thru testing will be available thanks to an Abbot Testing Machine and test kits the university received from the Arkansas Department of Health.

On-campus testing will be open to all UAFS students at no cost, and tests will be administered in a drive-through fashion to limit possible spread, exposure or contamination. UAFS has 23 active COVID cases, 22 students and one employee, the university’ website said.

“Any UAFS student who feels sick and has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough or difficulty breathing, or is concerned about COVID-19 exposure, is strongly encouraged to stay home and contact the Powell student health clinic at (479) 788-7435 for an evaluation. During the evaluation call, students will be pre-screened for COVID-19 testing, and if testing is determined to be the appropriate response, the student will be given detailed directions,” a news release from the university said.

Powell Student Health Clinic will administer tests from 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays and 9-11 a.m.Wednesdays at a separate campus location with ample room for through-traffic, the release said. Faculty and staff can be tested on campus as well.

A trained clinician will administer the nasal swab test and will tell students the timeframe in which they can expect results, which may vary depending upon symptoms and exposure risk. Result times from the Abbott machines may be ready in just a few minutes, while tests that must be sent off for review may take up to 2-3 days.

If a student tests positive, they are required to enter isolation, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, along with the ADH, will initiate the contact tracing process. UAFS Dean of Students Dave Stevens said it is important that students are aware of the university’s testing capabilities, especially as the cool weather brings about seasonal allergies, seasonal colds and the influenza virus which can create anxiety over symptoms.

“UAFS students have a great deal of trust in the clinicians and staff that run the Powell Student Health Clinic.  I am thankful that our students now have the option to get tested for COVID-19 from the same caring individuals who take care of so many of their other health needs,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, our goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Being able to test students and get them their results in a timely fashion will help us meet that goal.”

Students are asked to add contact tracer phone numbers to their mobile phone’s contact list for easier reach by those tracing others who might have been infected with the virus. Those numbers are:

There were 73 hospitalized in Fort Smith hospitals with COVID Monday (Oct. 5) with 13 of those on ventilators, said Rep. Dr. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood. Johnson is also the medical director for Fort Smith EMS and Southwest EMS and a practicing emergency room physician.
Johnson noted there are more hospitalizations than past months, but less proportional use of ventilators.

As of Sunday, the ADH dashboard reported that Arkansas had 7,222 active cases of the virus, with 6,405 of those confirmed and 817 probable. That brings Arkansas’ total cumulative cases to 87,013 with 1,425 deaths.

Sebastian County has 3,946 cumulative cases, 3,882 confirmed and 64 probable. There were 316 active confirmed cases Monday and 19 active probably for a total of 335 active cases. There have been 62 deaths — 54 confirmed and eight probable.

Crawford County 1,560 cumulative cases, 1,517 confirmed and 43 probable. There were 199 active confirmed cases Monday and five probable for a total of 204 active cases. There have been 16 total deaths — 13 confirmed and three probable.

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