Compared to the nasal swab test for COVID-19, the saliva-based test that Cal Poly Pomona uses is relatively easy, but producing 1.5 mL of drool does have its challenges.
Individuals must use a funnel to drool, not spit into a tube that is bagged, scanned and submitted to a Claremont lab for testing.
“I went through three funnels. I just did the best I could,” said Darren, a freshman studying computer science. “I think (the testing) is pretty good since I don’t think some people have had the vaccine.”
Cal Poly Pomona began its weekly public health testing program on Aug. 16. The testing is for students, staff and faculty who have requested a medical or religious exemption to vaccination or those who have not uploaded their proof of vaccination to the MyHealthPortal. The deadline to upload the vaccination record is Sept. 30. The university is doing the PCR test, which requires the submission of a saliva sample and provides results within 24 hours.
The purpose of the weekly testing is to detect COVID-19 in people who don’t have symptoms or aren’t yet showing signs of the virus to prevent transmission on campus. It’s one of many strategies the campus is using to keep students, faculty and staff safer.
Priscilla, an early childhood education senior, said the test was a little nerve wracking initially but was a pretty simple process once she got started. She appreciated the convenience of the testing site.
“It makes it easier to know that you can just come to campus and get tested,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about making an appointment with your health insurance provider or if you don’t have health insurance, a pharmacy like CVS.”
This is not the first time the university has done a COVID testing program. Cal Poly Pomona began a pilot testing program in April involving student athletes and athletic staff.
Elizabeth Carlos, a biology senior, serves as a health ambassador for the testing program and guides people through the testing process. The aspiring physician said she wanted to volunteer at a hospital, but she couldn’t because of the pandemic. She came across the health ambassador job post online and decided to apply.
For those taking the test, she offers some sage advice on how to produce enough of a sample for testing – think of foods they love to eat, go through the motions of chewing, yawn or massage their cheeks.
Carlos said the testing process has been a smooth one. For those who may have health and safety concerns, she tries to emphasize the purpose behind it.
“Some people want to know why we are doing this, or they may have an issue with it because they aren’t familiar with the process or have concerns about what goes on when taking one of the COVID tests,” she said. “However, we ensure them that the process is running smoothly, and we have various student health ambassadors that will be there to assist anyone who may need help. More importantly, we’re ensuring that the campus and community have a healthy and safe return after being away for so long.”
Cal Poly Pomona also plans to host a series of virtual town halls to help answer any additional questions the campus community might have about testing and safety protocols. The next one is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26. Go online to register and submit a question in advance.
Visit the Safer Return website for more information.