UVM celebrates 100,000 COVID tests with a giant Q-tip…yes, you read that right.


Eric Scharf

UVM President Suresh Garimella, Rally Cat, first-year Emily Scarborough and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger pose for a photo in the David Center Atrium to celebrate UVM’s 100,000th COVID-19 test Oct. 27.

As students passed through the Davis Center between classes Tuesday afternoon, UVM’s president stood at a makeshift stage, handing a first-year a giant Q-tip and goodie bag to celebrate the 100,000 COVID-19 tests the school has conducted.

UVM President Suresh Garimella celebrated the school’s COVID-19 testing strategy success at an Oct. 27 press event in the Davis Center Atrium. Garimella and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger commended the community’s low positivity rate and warned students to not let their guard down as Halloween and winter break approaches. 

Fresh off the COVID testing line, first-year Emily Scarborough was invited on a makeshift stage in the Davis Center Atrium, where she spoke about how coming to college in the middle of a pandemic has come with challenges.

“Starting my college career during a pandemic has certainly been interesting and a little overwhelming at times,” Scarbrough said. “One thing that I’m so glad to be at UVM for is that everyone here truly wants to be safe and wants (UVM) to remain open.”

In his opening remarks, Garimella spoke to a scattered crowd of roughly three dozen UVM faculty, staff, students and outside press, acknowledging how hard it has been for students to adjust to life on a college campus with COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

“We are social creatures, and college is a time when you forge many lifelong friendships,” Garimella said. “But I credit you with finding ways to do that while keeping your friends, your community, and many others you may never meet, safe.” 

After Garimella awarded Scarborough the giant Q-tip, Weinberger and UVM’s mascot Rally Cat joined them on the temporary stage for a photo op. 

Since the beginning of the fall semester, UVM has identified 27 positive cases among students and zero among faculty and staff, according to an Oct. 27 Cynic article.

In addition, the past three weeks have seen just one case per week, according to the article.

“You know, for the last seven months, we haven’t gotten to have very many happy events,” Weinberger said. “To get to 100,000 is big by Vermont standards but small in many ways by country standards. It has really been a remarkable achievement.”