As loyal workers of the Brandeis COVID-19 testing site, we have seen it all at this point, from busy days to dead days to days when we just wanted to lock ourselves in the closet and hide. We can also with confidence say that everyone at the testing site has a common goal: to get visitors out of there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there is little the testing site staff can do to make the process faster, but there are multiple steps visitors can take in order to get their COVID-19 test done as quickly as possible.
Firstly, let’s go through the steps you need to go through when you come to the testing site. You need to go through three (maybe four) steps: passport check, registration, performing the self-test and check out. Passport is the easiest one: All you need to do is have your Brandeis Passport pulled up and ready to show; if everyone has their passport open, this process should not take more than five seconds. Please note that the passport should be shown in the browser and not a screenshot. In order to enter the testing site, your passport needs to be green, yellow or orange. If you have a red passport because you need to make an appointment or do the daily health assessment, please do these things before you get to the testing site. If you don’t, chances are you will just have to do it while you are there and that slows everyone down. Additionally, if you have a red passport, there are bullet points right below your passport color that tell you exactly why you have a red passport. As mentioned above, it should specify whether you need to make an appointment or pass the daily health assessment.
Registration is simple: We need to put your name on your test tube. Why? So the Broad Institute doesn’t receive thousands of tests without names on them, which they then will not be able to connect the sample to the person. For this step, you just need to show some form of photo ID; someone even showed Sasha a Costco card once. Literally, as long as it has your face and name on it, it’s a valid form of photo ID for us. To make this process go faster you can have your photo ID ready while you are waiting in line, and have your test tube out of the bag and ready to go. Once you get to the registration desk, you can show your photo ID to the person working at the desk and then give them your test tube if you have one.
Next, a step that you may sometimes need to take: self-administering the test! To really speed up this process, if you have a testing kit, you can actually self-administer the test in a private location prior to even coming to the testing site, eliminating this step entirely. This elimination alone can save you probably half the time that you would spend at the testing site. However, if you did not bring a test and need to test on site, follow the instructions that are in the booklet, place the testing swab in the test tube and head to checkout.
Finally, you need to go to checkout. Checkout is the place where whether you have an appointment or not matters. If you want to get through checkout faster, make an appointment for the same day. If you do not have an appointment, we will need to add you manually, which takes much longer than just clicking off your name, so do us all a favor and just make the appointment.
In general, the factor that plays the largest role in how long you wait is the day and time you go for your appointment. As a general rule, Mondays are the busiest and Wednesdays are the quietest, at least in our experience. Usually a lot of people are also getting tested on Fridays and Sundays, because there is no testing on Saturdays. If you want to avoid lines, try to go on the less popular days, such as Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
In terms of time, the longest lines are usually right as the testing site opens at 9:00 a.m. and after classes get out. Classes at Brandeis start at even hours (8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m., through 8 p.m.) and most of them last 80 to 90 minutes, meaning that classes get out at half past odd hours (9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., through 9:30 p.m.). Avoid the testing site between the time classes end and the nearest hour (so if it’s 11:25 a.m. avoid the testing site until noon). The best times to come are around 30 minutes into the class period, so 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., etc. It also usually gets busy around closing (3:30 p.m. onwards), so that is another time that would be great to avoid. If you are only getting tested once a week, your best bet is to choose a time that is not in between classes, on a day that is not as popular.
Happy testing! And please be nice to the test site workers, we are people too.
Editor’s Note: These opinions are completely our own and are based on our own observations. They do not represent the opinions of the COVID-19 testing staff and are not meant to reflect coronavirus testing policy. Please note that COVID-19 testing policies do change, and the most current policies may not be reflected in this article.