Virginia Tech lab prepared to administer thousands of COVID-19 tests as students return to campus


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 lab is prepared for students to return to campus for the fall semester with a capacity of 1,000 tests per day.

The university says the lab has processed more than 10,000 samples for surrounding health districts since its launch on April 20 under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-issued Emergency Use Authorization. Tests are reportedly less intrusive by collecting a sample from the middle of the nose, and results are delivered within 24 hours.

“This testing capacity has been a key factor in allowing Virginia Tech to plan for fall opening with some in-person instruction and with about one-quarter of our students occupying on-campus residences in Blacksburg,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands said in a letter today to the campus community.  

The university’s semester plan calls for students living on campus to be tested for COVID-19 during the move-in period of August 14 to August 23. Testing is not required for students living off campus, but off-campus students who are at risk or believe they have been exposed to the virus should contact Schiffert Health Center to determine whether they should be tested. 

“When this pandemic exploded and we were verge of deciding what to do next, the university had two options. One was to wait for someone to help us, and the other one was to put our collective heads and resources together and do something to serve our community. Our university chose to be proactive. We want to help take care of our students. We are bringing them back, and we are testing them. On top of that, working closely with the health departments, we are able to provide test analysis for many other people in the communities around us.”

Carla Finkielstein, director of the Virginia Tech Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

“A person who is positive for the virus could potentially infect several other people with whom they interact while waiting for test results. The precision and the efficiency of the university’s COVID-19 testing team are a necessary part of the overall public health response to the pandemic — something that I wish was emulated on a larger national scale . . . We’re very committed to make sure that everybody is working and studying in an environment where we have reduced risk, and we have provided for essential components of a well-thought-out public health mitigation strategy as much as is reasonably possible,” Friedlander said. “Accurate testing with rapid turn-around by the university is only one part — everybody has to do their part, from wearing masks appropriately to social distancing to regular hand-washing.”

Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and vice president for health sciences and technology at Virginia Tech

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