Re: Do Your Part: Testing
To: All campus community
Aug. 19, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
UC Merced is implementing a strategy to reduce the threat from the novel coronavirus pandemic that relies not only on determining whether someone is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, but also if they are asymptomatic — carrying the virus but not showing signs of the disease. This distinction is crucial: Asymptomatic carriers can pass on the virus without knowing they have it. An on-campus outbreak will endanger the university community and tax the capacity of Merced County’s limited healthcare system as well.
The university’s asymptomatic testing program will require all students, faculty and staff, who are currently working on or will be returning to the campus, to be tested for COVID-19. Individuals who are present for one-time access will not be required to participate in the asymptomatic testing program.
Each individual participating in the program will be required to have two negative test results over a 14-day period to establish a baseline, followed by weekly tests of random individuals throughout the campus community. The expectation is that an individual will not be randomly tested more than twice in a semester. More detailed information about the program will be available soon on the Campus Ready website.
Undergraduate students coming to campus for the fall semester have been asked to take a COVID-19 test within seven days of their planned arrival. Doing so will decrease the time of their required on-campus sequestration. If a student cannot obtain a negative result from a test within seven days of their campus arrival, they will be tested during their 14-day sequestration period as they move into residential housing. Both graduate and undergraduate student testing will be supported by Student Health Services located at the new Wellness and Athletic Center.
Faculty and staff testing will be provided by Castle Family Health Center , the university’s occupational health provider for COVID-19 testing. The university will cover the testing expenses at Castle Family Health Center only if an employee’s insurance does not cover the cost of testing at that facility. More details about this process will follow. While we are planning to make testing available on campus in the early fall, currently employees must go to the Castle facility in Atwater for both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing. A schedule will be provided with the general sequence of employee groups to be tested as well as specific instructions for each individual.
The screening and testing program will take time to ramp up, with the expectation that all individuals active on campus will have been initially screened by the end of September and the COVID screening program will continue through fall semester.
Additional communication is coming about COVID-19 testing and other protocols for research, housing and administrative support. As always, thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and our community.
Chief Resilience Officer