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VT Fleet Services drivers key to transporting COVID tests to Roanoke lab

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 5:11 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Behind the wheel of an unassuming grey Chevy Impala is Craig Strain, a man as humble as the car he drives.

Over the past year, he and fellow Virginia Tech Fleet Services driver Jeff Holton have played an integral role in transporting every COVID test from Tech’s Blacksburg campus to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke.

The drive from Blacksburg to Roanoke is 86 miles round-trip. The Fleet Services team makes that drive twice a day, six days a week.

“So we’ve driven about 30,000 miles,” added up Strain.

Like the US Postal Service, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night has stopped Strain.

“Well, one night it did snow real hard before the salt trucks got out and all the interstate coming up the mountain in Christiansburg was stopped, and that was a three-hour trip,” said Strain.

Once the tests do arrive at Fralin around 1 and 6 p.m., they’re run in the molecular diagnostics lab, turning around results in 24 hours.

“We knew we had 9,000 students and the health professionals figured out a way to get the specimens collected from all 9,000; we knew how to analyze them here, but we didn’t have a way to get from point A to point B, and so Fleet Services has been critical to our operation,” said Hal Irvin, Fralin Biomedical’s associate VP for health sciences and technology outreach.

It’s a smooth process from start to finish, all thanks to that community effort Strain loves to highlight, that has contributed to Fralin Biomedical’s processing of 126,000 COVID tests and counting.

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