MIT opens new Johnson Athletic Center COVID-19 testing site

Approximately 20% of tests at MIT were conducted at Johnson during first week of opening

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The Johnson Athletic Center in the Z-Center opened for COVID-19 testing Monday Sept. 14.
Nathan Liang–The Tech

MIT opened a new COVID-19 testing site in the Johnson Athletic Center Sept. 14. Unlike the testing site outside MIT Medical, the new site is self-swab-only. While waiting lines for the MIT Medical trailers are primarily outdoors, the Johnson site’s lines are entirely indoors. 

The Johnson site is open 8 a.m–4 p.m. weekdays while the MIT Medical site is open 6 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays.

COVID Pass participants may choose either testing site to meet the Institute’s testing requirement for accessing on-campus buildings. Individuals living in MIT residence halls or on campus at least four days a week must be tested twice weekly. Those on campus one to three days a week must be tested once weekly.

The check-in process is identical at both testing centers. COVID Pass participants open the MIT Atlas app on their smartphones and scan their unique barcodes before confirming their dates of birth and phone numbers to MIT Medical staff.

COVID Pass participants are then given a packaged swab and a labelled vial to perform the test. In the MIT Medical trailers, those being tested can either self-swab or have MIT Medical staff swab them, while the Johnson site is exclusively self-swab.

Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation Director G. Anthony Grant wrote in an email to The Tech that “Johnson was chosen as an additional COVID-19 testing site because it is one of the few large indoor open spaces on campus.” The site was also chosen for “its location on West campus” and its “ease of access for” MIT community members.

Grant added that the campus community will receive the flu shot at Johnson later in the semester.

In April, Johnson was temporarily converted to the “Sean Collier Care Center” and “used as an alternate medical care facility for those in the Cambridge community who tested positive for COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic,” Grant wrote.

MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis ’90 wrote in an email to The Tech that MIT Medical is currently able to “handle around 4,000 tests a day” but that this number will grow to 10,000 tests a day once the Johnson site is “fully operational.”

Stuopis also wrote that the Johnson testing site was designed so that MIT Medical staff need “the absolute minimum amount of PPE, just a mask,” which means they are “not equipped to perform swabs on people.”

In the first week that Johnson was open, “about 20%” of MIT’s 14,153 COVID-19 tests were conducted at Johnson, Stuopis wrote.