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Misericordia University doing random COVID-19 tests

Thanks to a donor, surveillance testing on campus can be completed in a matter of hours to check for asymptomatic people with the coronavirus.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — At random, members of the Misericordia University community are going into the Henry Student Lounge that has been transformed into a COVID-19 surveillance testing site.

"This is a random testing of our entire population here on campus consisting of faculty, staff, and students," said lab manager Leo Carr. "At any given time, we'll be testing about 25 percent of our population on campus, which equates to about 500 individuals per week."

Thanks to a $300,000 donation from Mark and Lorraine Alles of Harveys Lake, the university says it will be able to quickly isolate those on campus with COVID-19 but who are asymptomatic.

"It's very much proactive," said Kit Foley, the vice president of student life. "We're able to address their health needs and remove them from close contact in our community."

When students, faculty, and staff come for testing, they go to their own little station, they fill up a tube with saliva just to the top of the cone, put it in a bag, drop it in a cooler, and head off to class.

"Once the samples are collected here in the Henry Lounge, they're then transported over to our COVID testing lab, which is in our brand new Henry Science Center where they're tested almost immediately with about a two-and-a-half-hour turnaround time," explained Carr.

If a student's sample is positive, they are notified and told to isolate and can then contact their doctor for diagnostic testing.

Michael Shuman is a sophomore on the lacrosse team.

"Definitely, knowing that, especially our team, knowing that we're all getting consistent tests and knowing that we're trying to limit as much of this virus in our locker room," said Shuman.

He says this adds to his education as a biology major.

"Yeah, it's definitely a pretty cool learning curve to see what I'm learning in class and how it applies to quite literally my everyday life. So, it is quite interesting."