Re: COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing
To: All campus
Jan. 8, 2021
Dear Campus Community,
I’m excited to announce that we will be adjusting our Asymptomatic COVD-19 Testing program to an on-campus, saliva based program. We will be offering the program in partnership with UC Davis and their Genomics Lab, who will be processing our tests. Our teams within Student Health Services, Facilities Management, Emergency Management, Environmental Health and Safety and many others have gone the extra mile to ensure that our operation will carry us through the spring semester and beyond as needed.
Our goal is to offer more testing over the spring semester, both required and optional, to our campus community of students, faculty and staff. At this point in time, we will be adjusting our required testing for individuals who are active on campus more than once a week as follows:
Spring 2021 Asymptomatic Testing Requirements
- Weekly: Undergraduate Students*
- Every 2 Weeks: Graduate Students*, Faculty* and Staff*
* For individuals living, learning or working on-site on a weekly, recurring basis.
About Saliva and Onsite Testing
The COVID-19 saliva testing protocol is PCR-based with UC Davis establishing greater than 96% sensitivity as part of its validation process. The test itself is quite simple, with 0.7 ml of saliva required to perform the test. Videos on the process at UC Davis, which will be similar to what we implement at UC Merced, can be found here: UCD Saliva Testing.
Location: California Room – Terrace Center
The onsite testing program will be housed in the California Room located at the Terrace Center. A team from Facilities Management evaluated the space for appropriate ventilation for the activity. With the large vaulted ceiling, dedicated air handler, and utilizing as much outside air as practicable in addition to MERV13 filters, the space is well suited for the testing operation.
The Asymptomatic Testing program will operate normally as follows:
Monday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Wednesday: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thursday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Holidays will be excluded.
All individuals who are required to be tested must schedule an appointment. Students will continue to utilize the appointment process that we have been following to date. Initially student hours are modified, please see the website for more information: COVID19 Asymptomatic Testing
Next week, we are inviting faculty and staff who are active on campus (see parameters above) to begin the testing protocol on Wednesday (Jan. 13) or Thursday (Jan. 14) from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Please follow the instructions outlined on this web page: Faculty & Staff Asymptomatic Testing. Please remember, faculty and staff who are not currently active on campus with weekly recurrence are not to schedule an appointment at this time.
As an important reminder, this program is only for asymptomatic individuals. Anyone exhibiting symptoms, whether students, faculty or staff, are not to attend the asymptomatic testing site. For students, please follow the instructions outlined by Student Health Services. For staff and faculty, we will continue to partner with Castle Family Health Centers in Atwater to offer symptomatic testing. Information for symptomatic individuals can be found here: https://doyourpart.ucmerced.edu/covid-19-symptomatic-testing.
I’m excited about this step forward for our campus. Over time, we will be able to scale this operation up beyond its current design to provide robust monitoring while the vaccination administration program gains steam. Our results will be received within 48 hours via a digital portal, greatly improving our response time for contact tracing. These are all positives in this difficult time and I greatly appreciate the patience of our campus community as we worked diligently to bring this capability to campus.
Chief Resilience Officer