Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 21, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — University of Wisconsin-Madison students can pick up a quick $10 — if they agree to take a COVID-19 test.
A source this week told Empower Wisconsin that some students were earning as much as $40 per COVID test, so we checked into it.
Meredith McGlone, UW-Madison director of News and Media Relations, said the fee is $10 for off-campus students.
“To ensure we’re understanding the prevalence of COVID-19 both on and off campus, our campus testing plan includes voluntary surveillance testing of students who live off-campus,” she said in an email. “Each week we offer testing to a sample of students; if a student agrees to take a test, they receive $10.”
How many students are getting tested? Who is paying for the tests? How much money are we talking about?
McGlone did not answer a follow-up email.
Information on the university’s COVID-19 Response website notes that 500 undergraduate students who live off-campus were expected to be selected at random each week and asked to make an appointment at a campus testing facility for a free COVID-19 test.
Collin Pitts, chief resident of preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) and a member of the University Health Services COVID-19 testing team, is leading the surveillance effort.
The university also is conducting surveillance testing among volunteer groups of students and employees. Volunteer cohorts from across representative campus populations are providing regular samples for COVID-19 testing.
“The results will help inform campus and public health officials so they can make any necessary changes to operations,” the website states.
A report in the Wisconsin State Journal last week noted more than 3,000 UW Madison students have apparently contracted COVID-19 since late July.
UW started in-person instruction on Sept. 2, and was forced to lockdown after an outbreak of COVID-19 on campus. After Thanksgiving, the university will switch to virtual learning for all courses for the final nine days of instruction plus exams. Plans for the spring semester will be announced at a later date.