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Signs in the University of Georgia's Legion Pool parking lot denote the site as a COVID-19 surveillance testing site in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach; @taylormckenzie_photo)

The University of Georgia now has another option for students who want to get tested for COVID-19: a saliva test. The test is for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff and is part of UGA’s surveillance COVID-19 testing program. Here’s how my experience getting a saliva test went.

UGA has multiple pop-up testing sites that move around depending on the date and time. I went to the Tate Student Center West Lawn on Monday. To get a test, you need to bring your UGA ID card and smartphone, and you can’t eat, drink, smoke or chew gum for 30 minutes before the test. 

I walked up to the table, which was outside, and gave the workers my ID card. The workers were from the University Health Center. They scanned my ID and gave me a package with an empty vial and a cap with a blue solution inside. I also got some instructions with the vial test number so I could look up my results. 

I had to scan a QR code, which went to the Vault Health website. I made an account with my name, address and email, and scanned the barcode on the vial. Then, I took the test.

The test is fairly simple — you just spit in the vial up to the fill line, similar to at-home DNA testing kits that have gained popularity in recent years. After that, you screw on the cap with the solution and shake for 5 seconds to mix. Then, a worker takes the vial, puts it in a plastic bag, and you put a sticker with a unique code on it to match your test to your results. 

The entire process took me about 15 minutes, and could be shorter depending on how long it takes you to fill the vial. The Vault website says at-home saliva tests normally cost $119, but mine was free since it was through UGA. The workers said I should be emailed my results in a couple of days. 

UGA is encouraging all members of the university community to get tested before traveling for Thanksgiving break. The schedule of saliva testing sites can be found here