Faculty, staff and students opting in to a new level of COVID-19 testing are helping reinforce the safety of the entire University of Nebraska–Lincoln community.
Launched Sept. 28, the randomized mitigation testing program is designed to provide university leaders and health care professionals with a clearer look into how the virus is spreading on campus. It also helps quickly identify individuals who test positive for COVID-19, particularly asymptomatic carriers of the disease.
“Participation in our randomized testing is strictly voluntary, but also extremely important to our ongoing strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Chancellor Ronnie Green said. “This is another tool in our toolbox, particularly as the seasons change, that is allowing us to continue moving forward successfully in our mission to safely educate students, conduct research and creative activity, and engage with our communities.”
The randomized testing is offered separately from the university’s free, on-campus TestNebraska program that has been in place in the 17th and R streets parking garage since Aug. 12. The randomized testing is taking place via appointment, 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays in tents in the East Stadium Loop, immediately south of the Coliseum.
Selection for the testing is truly random, with a sample of Huskers pulled weekly from a current list of students, faculty and staff. The weekly sample size is adjusted as needed to meet testing goals. Those selected are notified via email and urged to set up an appointment to get tested during the following week.
The tests — which include walk-up or drive-through options — are via nasal swab with results returned in approximately 24 to 72 hours. Testing is provided at no cost and participation is voluntary. Participants who are tested through the randomized program do not need to self-quarantine while awaiting results.
Employees selected for the testing can set an appointment during work hours. The invitations can also be shared with supervisors if necessary.
All test results will be reported to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, which will collaborate with university’s Public Health Advocacy Team for the purposes of contact tracing. The results of the randomized mitigation testing will be combined in overall test results presented on the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Ultimately, the university seeks to test at least 500 faculty, staff and students per week through the randomized option.