UNLV is offering free COVID-19 testing in the Tropicana Parking Garage as well as the Shadow Lane Campus in partnership with UMC and the Nevada National Guard. I took a test for the first time at the Tropicana Parking Garage. 

I chose to get tested because I interact with many people on a daily basis at work. Although we take everyone’s temperatures and require face masks, my occupation does not allow me to remain six feet apart from patients. I was and still remain asymptomatic, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t unknowingly infecting those around me. 

Scheduling for a COVID-19 test is offered online or by calling UMC at (702) 383-2619. After choosing to schedule online, I answered a series of questions that determine my eligibility for a test. The first available appointment was about a week and a half out. UMConnect sent me an email with my appointment details. 

A few days before my appointment, I tried to be seen as a walk in because the UNLV website stated that walk-ins may be accommodated “if staffing levels permit.” Upon my arrival, there was a tent staffed with members of the National Guard who directed me to the drive through line. Unfortunately, that day was by appointment only. 

The signs that read “Only scheduled appointments today” were still up when I went on Thursday morning. Everyone was wearing a mask, even those inside their cars ready to be tested. The first individuals who confirmed that I had an appointment asked that I put my ID on the left side of the dashboard. They took down my information then placed a sticky note on my windshield. They directed me through one of three lanes that entered the Tropicana Parking Garage. Although there seemed to be a lot of people entering the garage, the line moved relatively fast. 

Once I entered the garage, I saw many taking advantage of the walk up services they offer for pedestrians or individuals who come by bicycle or motorcycle. I noticed four stations allocated for testing. 

When the time came for me to park the car to get tested, I grew nervous knowing that they had to swab me. I rolled my window down but they asked me to pull it back up until they actually took the swab. A gentleman in a faceshield and white coat let me know it was going to be an oral swab. He asked me to stick my tongue out and lean my head back. He counted down from ten while he put a cotton swab towards the back of my mouth and into my throat. Admittedly, I had to withhold a gag but it passed relatively quickly.

He let me know the turnaround time for the results is about six days. He handed me a set of flyers that directed me to the application and website where I could get my results. It also included information about COVID-19 with advice on how to stay safe and keep from infecting others. The entire process took only 5 minutes from start to finish. 

Exiting the garage, I saw the military vehicles parked in the Red Lot. Although my experience was very easy, it made me realize the gravity of our situation in Las Vegas. I wondered if UMC and the National Guard will remain after students return to campus for the Fall semester.

Taking a COVID-19 test at UNLV was extremely quick and virtually painless. My only contemplation afterwards was the result of my test. Other places that offer testing, like Walgreens, seem to have quicker results, sometimes even on the same day.