COVID-19 testing continues on campus
By David Gomez Jr.
Published Monday, Oct. 12, 2020
With a limited number of COVID-19 tests available, TAMIU students, faculty and staff might want to take advantage while the opportunity still exists.
“I fear of testing numbers being so low that the A&M branches will stop testing and then have our numbers rise again,” Vice President for Student Success Minita Ramirez said.
Her job includes advocating for Texas A&M International University students and faculty, as well as raising their concerns.
“Everyone who shops for groceries or goes out to parks to take long walks, they should test,” Ramirez said. “Try to test regularly when you think you’ve been somewhere you might have been exposed and self-quarantine until you know for sure you do not have it.”
Though Ramirez doesn’t run this all on her own, TAMIU’s testing center is made up of representatives from staff, faculty senate, student government, Special Program Aid Hector F. Gonzalez as a health consultant, Director of Student Health Services Claudia Beltran, all of TAMIU’s vice presidents and Director of Public Relations and Marketing Steve Harmon.
“Testing will remain open until people no longer want to be tested,” Ramirez said. “Medical personnel will be in full [personal protective equipment] to provide the safest testing possible that it can.”
As of now, the testing facility will remain open 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays, operated by a handful of nursing students, and from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays by established medical personnel.
A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said back in mid-July, in a newsletter, that ensuring the health and safety of students was a top priority for the A&m System and that testing should mitigate the spread and help protect each other from contracting the novel coronavirus. Striking a deal with California-based testing facility Curative Inc. supplies swifter results, in as little as two days.
“The chancellor didn’t even tell us how much all of this was costing,“ Ramirez said. “He, and everyone, just knew it was the right thing to do.”
In terms of the University’s response, “Nobody blinked,” Ramirez said, referring to the strenuous and long hours faculty and maintenance worked since receiving the news of TAMIU Flex scheduling just five weeks before the start of the Fall 2020 semester. From the plexiglass drilled into the desks six feet apart to the wipe down of every door handle on campus, University staff continues to clean.
Ramirez stressed the importance of the TAMIU community coming together to prepare for the start of the semester. At least a handful of volunteers from every department on campus took it upon themselves to be prepared—adding that no one she came in communication with took a day off those entire five weeks.
A classroom that would need to be moved to a different venue, due to a high number of students that could be changed in a day, would now take a week to manually ensure social distancing protocols are followed.
“I’ve been asked before, and as a person [at risk] with high blood pressure, I feel comfortable coming to work on campus,” Ramirez said. “You can certainly feel a difference in the amount of effort you put in while teaching in a classroom than a kitchen table.”
For additional information or to set an appointment for a free COVID-19 test, interested persons may go to the TAMIU webpage at https://www.tamiu.edu/health/covid-19-reporting.shtml.