EMU offering free rapid COVID tests to school community

EMU is offering free rapid COVID tests for its students, faculty and staff. (Eastern Michigan University)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Eastern Michigan University is now offering free COVID testing to students, faculty and staff in order to help reduce exposure to the virus on campus.

The school’s COVID Testing Center offers safe and accurate testing, said EMU professor and program director for the Clinical Laboratory Science Program, Dr. Lynne Shetron-Rama.

“By offering these tests, we can hopefully keep a handle on small COVID outbreaks and keep them from spreading,” Shetron-Rama said in a release. “The testing center saves people time and energy. People can easily sign up and walk-in for a free test.”

The testing center is located next to the EMU Bookstore on the ground floor of the Student Center.

The center uses the Abbott BinaxNow rapid test kit, which is a self-administered, shallow nasal swab test. Students from EMU’s Medical Laboratory Science and Exercise Science department oversee the testing.

“The rapid test only goes up into the first half-inch or so of the nose,” Shetron-Rama said in a statement. “We wanted the students, staff, and faculty to be able to do it themselves. The test itself is done in minutes and results come back within a couple of hours.”

She said the tests are also highly sensitive.

“The rapid test checks for a piece of the viral particle and has proven to be a good test for the SARS CoV-2 virus,” she said in a release. “The current data shows most rapid tests are 98 percent sensitive at picking up infection.”

Special assistant to the provost and EMU director of nursing operations, Sherry Bumpus, said the school chose to go with the rapid tests instead of PCR testing because it the results are faster and the tests are more cost effective.

“The equipment, solutions, and supplies for PCR tests were in short supply when we were in the center planning process during fall 2020,” Bumpus said in a release. “Abbott labs announced their plan to make rapid antigen tests available in January 2021. These tests are substantially less expensive than PCR, less complex, and offer rapid results. These factors allowed us to open the center right away in the Winter 2021 semester.”

School officials said the campus community has been using the testing center regularly, which processes roughly 300 tests on a busy day.

“EMU cares about the health and safety of every student and employee,” Bumpus said in a release. “Providing free tests in a convenient setting -- particularly for our student housing population, who may not be able to go off-campus for testing -- demonstrates our strong commitment to our community.”

For more information, contact emu_covidtest@emich.edu.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.