CSUN will soon be home to a rapid COVID-19 testing site, where students can get their results in just 15 minutes.
The Antigen test kits are set to be available by the end of next week, according to Sharon Aronoff, a health educator at the Klotz Center. The health center is waiting for reagents, a critical substance for this test, to arrive before they can begin testing. The substance will be given to hospitals and long-term facilities before the Klotz Center, according to Dr. Linda Chassiakos, director of the Klotz Student Health Center.
Unlike testing provided by L.A. County, if someone does not have health insurance, the test will be roughly $40 out of pocket, according to Aronoff. A cost that could add onto the inequalities faced by the lower income community at CSUN.
In Fall of 2020, 59% of students enrolled at CSUN were identified as traditionally underserved, according to CSUN Counts. Traditionally underserved is an ethnic group that is usually disadvantaged by their income and healthcare.
“The affordability depends on the student because I don’t know what’s in your wallet or mine. If you have access to MediCal or insurance, then Quest Diagnostics will immediately break down your plan for you. If students are interested, they should contact the Student Health Center,” said Aronoff.
Saunders stressed that this rapid test could be a critical benefit for vulnerable communities.
The pandemic has disproportionately hit people of color in Los Angeles. Roughly 60% of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles are from the Latino community, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. In Fall 2020, 71% of students enrolled at CSUN identified as a person of color, according to CSUN Counts.
“Testing needs to be done in areas where there are high levels of marginalized and economically challenged individuals, as well as where high levels of homelessness are and rural communities,” said Dr. Carmen Saunders, CSUN Associate Professor of Health Sciences.
There are currently five testing sites within a five-mile radius of Northridge, according to a statement from the LACDPH. All five sites perform rapid antigen testing for the community.
Alfredo Ramirez, a medical assistant administering COVID-19 tests at Valley Urgent Care in Northridge, said that the rapid testing will be more accurate for those who have been exposed.
“In the next week or so, our area is expected to receive the rapid testing material,” Ramirez said. “This will be more accurate because the samples are sent to the lab faster. People will be reassured that they are not exposed and less paranoid. This will reinforce the belief that they should take precautionary measures and it will be less anxious for people with pre-existing medical conditions.”
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health declared that until a vaccine is available, testing is one of the best ways to monitor and control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.