More University of California, Davis students and employees who don’t have coronavirus symptoms can now get tested after a rapid saliva-based COVID-19 test developed by UC Davis was officially validated, campus officials said.

About 6,000 more students, faculty and staff members have been invited by email to schedule their first weekly testing appointment, UC Davis announced in a news release earlier this week. The rapid asymptomatic testing started as a pilot project earlier this year, when students moved into the residence halls.

Those invited to join the testing process include students not previously eligible for the program and employees in custodial services and those working with in-person instruction, the campus library, the School of Veterinary Medicine, select research projects, information and educational technology, the offices of the chancellor and the provost and finance, operations and administration.

The UC Davis asymptomatic testing began in mid-September. More than 17,000 tests have been administered, revealing 12 positive results, according to the UC Davis COVID-19 dashboard.

Campus officials said those who have already received that testing have included students who live on campus or who live in sororities and fraternities off campus. Employees in student housing and dining services, student health and counseling services, occupational health services and the campus police and fire departments have also been offered that rapid testing.

Kelly Ratliff, UC Davis vice chancellor for finance, operations and administration, said on Nov. 6 that UCD expects testing will become available to all employees by next month, and COVID-19 testing will become mandatory for those who use campus facilities.

“I think having access to no-cost, rapid COVID-19 testing could be a great benefit to our employees in and around Davis particularly with the winter break and holidays approaching,” Ratliff said in a statement posted on the UC Davis website.

COVID-19 testing on campus this week moved from outdoors at the Pavilion Parking Structure to indoors at the Activities and Recreation Center. UC Davis officials chose a space large enough to accommodate 10,000 people coming through each week and had adequate air conditioning to “mitigate potential viral risks related to airflow,” according to the news release.

One of the team members who selected the indoor testing site is David Coil, a microbiology scientist who has been conducting research on campus to find evidence of the coronavirus in HVAC systems.

“What are we doing to make this safe? We’ve actually gone in with smoke machines and verified that the air is circulating efficiently,” Coil said in the news release.

Campus officials said they identified some “dead spaces” in the indoor testing site, but those problematic areas “have been remedied.”

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Rosalio Ahumada writes breaking news stories related to crime and public safety for The Sacramento Bee. He speaks Spanish fluently and has worked as a news reporter in the Central Valley since 2004.

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