Decentralized Pegula Testing Center Could Deter Off-Campus Students
Penn State moved its walk-up coronavirus testing center from the HUB parking deck to the Pegula Ice Arena’s main concourse on Friday, October 9.
While the change of location wasn’t necessarily a bad decision, negative consequences regarding testing numbers and logistics may increase in the coming months.
The HUB Parking Deck is located in the heart of campus for a reason. It is easy to access, central, and a very familiar place for all students. It was the most realistic and efficient location for students to get tested during the warm weather.
While the need for an alternative testing location was inevitable, perhaps Penn State could have picked a more central location.
I live downtown near the west side of campus, and Pegula is over a mile and a half from my apartment building. After a brisk walk up Shortlidge and the hill by UHS, it took a solid 30 minutes to get to the site. The walk was enjoyable on an early October afternoon, but when temperatures start to dip below 40 degrees, it will be a different story.
Many students live an additional 15-20 minutes further west than I do, and it is unrealistic to think that students will walk 50 minutes to Pegula mid-winter.
Some could argue that the walk to Pegula is no different than a stroll to pre-pandemic Beaver Stadium, but the two are drastically different. Students who are
stumbling walking that far to a football game are with a group and in good health on a mildly chilly fall afternoon. Students walking to Pegula will be doing so in 20 degree weather and have a high probability of being ill.
The reality is that a number of symptomatic students get tested at the asymptomatic walk-up testing center because it is not charging their insurance, unlike the symptomatic testing through UHS. The walk to Pegula would be brutal with a fever or fatigue.
There will be plenty of off-campus students who take the trip East to Pegula, but there will also be many who will opt against getting tested.
Additionally, students are advised not to take public transportation if they suspect they could be positive, but students are going to take the CATA bus if the alternative is walking two miles in the winter.
Truthfully, I’m not sure what the answer is. However, I reckon voluntary testing numbers will decline this winter. I just hope that Penn State students are willing to trek all the way to Pegula to keep the community safe.
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