The return to campus amid the omicron surge has taken its toll on the campus community with a 25.5% positivity rate, the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic. The 937 positives out of the 3,680 total tests administered last week have not surpassed the fall’s second week totals — 1,498 positive cases out of 26,382 total tests — which included the mandatory return-to-campus testing.
Announced on Jan. 12, the university will continue to hand out a free pack of COVID-19 at-home tests once per week to each student and faculty member, though — since the demand for these tests has declined — the number of distribution sites will be fewer, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Greg Hartman announced in a Jan. 25 email.
The sites will remain open Monday through Friday with the West Campus Wehner location distributing tests from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the A.P. Beutel Health Center location open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“For the home tests, you must visit the request site, select College Station, then use your NetID to log on and fill out the form,” Hartman said in the email. “A receipt number will be emailed to your Texas A&M account; show that number when picking up the test kit.”
A change since the first announcement, A&M has received more kits from the Texas Department of Emergency Management, though this set of tests include both BinaxNOW and another Food & Drug Administation-approved testing kit, INDICAID.
“The INDICAID product comes [with] 25 tests per box, so to distribute individually, we are carefully placing the supplies needed for an individual test in a clear Ziplock bag, along with instructions for use,” Hartman said. “While the process for taking this test is like other at-home tests, please be sure to follow directions closely.”
In addition to the at-home test option and regular testing on campus, the Texas A&M Health Maroon Line Clinic will host three pop-up vaccine clinics in the exhibit hall in Rudder Theatre on Friday, Jan. 28, Thursday, Feb. 3 and Friday, Feb. 11 from 12-4 p.m. each day.
No scheduling is required for these appointments, though organizers request individuals to get in line by 4 p.m. to ensure they receive a vaccine. Campus members wishing to get a vaccine should bring their vaccine card, if they have one.
“Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available for first, second and third doses, as well as boosters,” Hartman said. “A full third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is given to immunocompromised patients. Shots will be given only to those age 12 and older.”
Beyond campus, Hartman shared vaccine locations across town including the Texas A&M Health Family Care Clinic in Bryan, which is offering vaccines by appointment on Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m.
The White House has also played a proactive role in trying to stop the national spread of COVID-19 with the distribution of at-home tests through the U.S. Postal Service, a Jan. 14 White House press release said. The tests are limited to four boxes per household with two kits per box; to request the tests to be delivered, individuals should fill out the online form.
“Testing is an important tool to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, [or CDC], recommend that Americans use at-home tests if they begin to have symptoms, at least five days after coming in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or are gathering indoors with a group of people who are at risk of severe disease or unvaccinated,” the release reads.
The Biden administration also announced on Jan. 19 that 400 million KN95 masks will be delivered to pharmacies across the nation, according to AP News. Since the announcement of the lower efficiency of cloth masks from the CDC, the administration hopes to get the most effective masks to many Americans to slow the spread of omicron.