COVID-19 testing in the Beall's Hill neighborhood of Macon in April.

COVID-19 testing in the Beall's Hill neighborhood of Macon in April. / GPB

Mercer University in Macon is taking steps to make sure students, faculty and others can stay relatively safe from coronavirus when physical classes resume later this summer.

Step One is an on campus coronavirus testing lab.Mercer University To Create Campus COVID-19 Testing Lab

“I think it fits perfectly with the mission of our medical school,” Mercer University President Bill Underwood said. “Which is to improve health outcomes in rural and under served of the state.”

The testing lab will have the capacity to test up to 1,000 samples in eight hours, and the results will come back within hours. Mercer students and people from central Georgia are welcome in the testing center.

“We think that bringing the testing lab up to full speed will really help a part of the state that could really use good sound accurate testing in short fashion,” Mercer Provost Scott Davis said.

Mercer already had research-grade testing instruments in labs at the Mercer medical school. Now, the school is tooling up with the addition of commercial grade equipment, too. The university has started sending out a mobile clinic to collect samples around Middle Georgia.

Mercer will have sanitization stations set through campus as well as housing options on campus set aside for students found to carry the virus and who need to self isolate. Infrared thermometers will be placed throughout campus to scan people before they enter buildings.

Mercer University hopes to have a fully operational coronavirus testing lab before in person classes resume on June 22.