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The Trump administration is sending COVID-19 rapid tests to historically Black colleges and universities.

Kentucky State University received its Abbott Laboratories rapid tests this week.

“We’re adding them to our arsenal,” KSU President Dr. M. Christopher Brown II told The State Journal.

Brown said the boxes of tests hadn't been opened yet, but that the White House sent 200,000 test kits to 41 public, four-year HBCUs.

"We have no plan on how we'll use them, and if we'll use them for surveillance or symptomatic testing," he said. "You have to have training for (rapid) testing."

Kentucky State is offering two types of testing for students and staff.

“We’re doing surveillance testing once a month,” Brown said. “We’ve procured Wild Health to do the COVID testing. They come on campus, and we sign up students and staff to take the COVID test.”

Brown said surveillance testing gives the school the opportunity to survey its landscape.

"You test as many people as you can just to see where the antigens are," he said about surveillance testing.

The university is also offering symptomatic testing for those who think they may have the virus.

“Additionally, any student or staff who is concerned can go to the infirmary any day and be tested,” Brown said. “At present we’re using Quest Diagnostics for that.”

Students and staff register online for an appointment for surveillance testing, and results are emailed to the person and the school. 

Brown said nasal swabs are being used to administer tests on campus. Results are available within 24-48 hours.

The rapid tests use saliva for diagnosis, and people can receive their results in less than 30 minutes.

Kentucky State’s website, www.kysu.edu/covid19, in a post dated Sept. 23, reported a total of 79 students and nine employees had ever tested positive for COVID-19. The numbers are updated on the website once a week.

The Franklin County Health Department reports 68 students and five staff have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to FCHD Director Judy Mattingly.

“As I say on campus, I’d like everyone in our campus community to test regularly and often,” Brown said. “As I’ve said in several Zoom meetings, sometimes when you walk through the grocery store or Walgreen’s, you check your blood pressure, or when you walk through the mall, you check your weight.

“You don’t do that because anything is wrong; you just want to know. Checking for COVID and your temperature can be the new norm.”

Brown said testing is free for students and staff and at cost to the institution.

“What I did not want was for anyone to have to ask that question,” he said about people wondering if their personal health insurance would cover the cost of testing.

KSU is doing hybrid instruction this academic term, where students attend class, both face-to-face with reduced classroom size and synchronously via the university’s learning platform, Blackboard, on alternating days.

“Students are studying more,” Brown said. “They don’t have much else to do. Faculty has expressed there’s more focus in the classroom. The wear and tear on the physical plant is greatly diminished, and traffic in and out of campus is almost obsolete.”

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