COVID-19 testing center updates allow for higher capacity

COVID-19 testing center updates allow for higher capacity

Gracie Terrall, News Editor

President Barry Dunn addressed the Students’ Association Senate during their Sept. 21 meeting where he discussed how the city-wide ordinance 20-019, which mandated masks in public indoor spaces, has affected COVID-19 infection rates in Brookings.

When campus closed March 23, cases per day were extremely low and, apart from a small spike in July, stayed this way for a majority of the summer. Cases started to continually rise from Aug. 16, when campus reopened, until Brookings peaked the beginning of September. 

“Cases reached over 50 a day here in Brookings,” Dunn said. 

When the mask mandate was enacted by the Brookings City Council, numbers started to drop down to 10 a day. 

“Policy works, and behavior was changed,” Dunn said. “We can manage this, it is reasonable.”       

Dunn did qualify by saying that there are some disparities with the data based on reporting patterns from the South Dakota Department of Health.

Vice President of Student Affairs, Michaela Willis, also discussed on campus testing for students. 

Being the only campus in the state of South Dakota with a drive-thru testing center, South Dakota State University is able to get results back to students within 24 hours. 

Willis also announced that the university is now able to test asymptomatic students and those in close contact with confirmed positive people. 

With the this new addition to the testing requirements, SDSU can start testing a wider array of people.

“These tests are free,” Willis said. “You don’t use insurance; you don’t pay a dime.”

Currently, the clinic is not at their full capacity for testing, but they plan to be soon. This will also allow for more tests to be administered.

“Once we’re up to our initial capacity, we will be able to run 200 tests a day,” Willis said. “If we ever needed to scale that up even more, we could probably get to 2000 tests a week.”

The drive-thru testing center runs Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.