June 30, 2020
In a follow-up to the Chancellor’s recent communication about SARS-CoV-2 testing, UC San Diego Health will facilitate regular virus testing for students, faculty and staff. The universal goal is to improve the health and safety of the entire campus community. Specifically, the aim is to lessen the likelihood of a significant outbreak of COVID-19 on campus through the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for SARS-CoV-2, as well as the ongoing implementation of proven interventions including masking and face coverings, isolation and quarantine. The purpose of this memo is to address COVID-19 testing needs for all employees: staff and faculty.
DAILY SYMPTOM SCREENING TOOL
In addition to appropriate masking, one of the best defenses against COVID-19 is the easy-to-use daily symptom screening tool. The online tool helps identify employees who may need testing, regardless if an employee is working from home or onsite. After logging in, the tool asks if you have been tested recently and if you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. As per a mandate of the County of San Diego, all employees who have been approved to be physically present at any UC San Diego worksite must complete the screening before arriving onsite. Those who work remotely in the San Diego region are strongly encouraged to complete the screening in case testing is needed. If you have been on campus in the last three days and developed symptoms, you should complete the survey too. Lastly, if you develop symptoms while at work, please re-take the symptom screening. Information about the tool can be found at: https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/services/covid-19/symptom-screening/index.html.
FREE TESTING FOR EMPLOYEES WITH SYMPTOMS
All employees who report symptoms via the screening tool will be confidentially contacted by a member of UC San Diego Health’s testing support line to determine if a nasal swab test needs to be scheduled. If a test is needed, the university will offer the test at no charge to you at a UC San Diego drive-up location. You will receive a confidential follow-up call to let you know if you test positive or negative for the virus. Additionally, per County of San Diego mandate, the County of San Diego must be notified of positive test results.
TESTING POSITIVE: NO SHAME
If you test positive for the virus, you will get the help you need in a comforting and confidential manner. A health professional at UC San Diego’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine will not only advise you on the medical care you may need, they will help communicate with other UC San Diego employees and students who may have been in contact with you. This process is called “contact tracing.” This means that phone calls will be made within 24 hours to your close contacts at UC San Diego whether they are co-workers or affiliates such as vendors. The notification process is timely, respectful and private; the contacts are not informed of who tested positive, just that they were in contact with someone who tested positive in a certain location and timeframe. Testing for any fellow employees who meet CDC guidance for community exposure (https://bit.ly/3gdeiZx) is also done at no charge to them. If you get testing outside of UC San Diego and get a positive result, you must report it to the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. In addition to notifications and testing, appropriate sanitation measures are taken to disinfect the spaces where ill employees may have been present as a safety precaution.
TESTING EMPLOYEES WITHOUT SYMPTOMS
Employees who are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms of the virus, but are required to physically report to a UC San Diego worksite, are eligible for a COVID test. Interested employees can indicate their interest when they register in the daily symptom screening tool at https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/services/covid-19/symptom-screening/index.html. If you initially declined this testing but have changed your mind, you can edit your preference within the symptom screening registration. Please be advised that the tests for asymptomatic employees are prioritized AFTER employees with symptoms have been tested. Please wait to be called—do not call directly to ask for an update. Again, there is no cost to employees for asymptomatic or symptomatic testing of SARS-CoV-2 for students, faculty and staff if testing is done at a UC San Diego Health location or through UC San Diego Student Health Services.
As we get closer to fall and a large-scale return of the campus population, we will be rolling out monthly asymptomatic testing as part of the Return to Learn program. More information on that will be communicated later in the summer and via https://returntolearn.ucsd.edu/.
BE SURE TO MASK
Remember, masking is the first line of defense against COVID-19. Please wear a mask or face covering in public and on campus. It’s the right thing to do—a simple measure to protect you, your friends and family, and the campus community.
Thank you for your help and cooperation as we coordinate efforts to make campus a safe place to work and learn. While these efforts are critical to improving the health and safety of our community, the situation with COVID-19 continues to change so we will continue to adapt our response to integrate the most up-to-date science, requiring a new level of flexibility from all of us. Updates to our screening and testing efforts can be found at https://returntolearn.ucsd.edu/news-and-updates/updates-to-campus/index.html.