Promising news on COVID testing from Pres Schill

Dear University of Oregon community,

In the coming days, the University of Oregon will expand COVID-19 surveillance testing conducted by our in-house Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP). Our first phase of MAP testing was primarily focused on students living in residence halls. Having that capability in-house was vital to our efforts to operate campus safely and responsibly this fall.Regular mandatory testing will continue in our residence halls, and we are pleased that we are now in a position to expand MAP’s work to accommodate additional voluntary testing for some groups of employees and students, including students living off campus (with a focus on those in large apartment complexes or other congregate housing, such as fraternities and sororities), faculty and employees whose work requires them to be on campus, underserved communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and in some cases, the community at large. The MAP team is ramping up testing capacity to about 4,000 tests per week—beginning next week and expanding throughout the fall and into the winter.There is nothing for you to do now. If you are in one of the groups that is being offered a voluntary testing opportunity, you will be contacted directly with detailed information about how to participate in testing events. During the fall, the testing efforts conducted by MAP will be free and will not require any insurance billing. Additionally, most testing events will continue to be at Matthew Knight Arena, but we are looking at another location in the west campus and the possibility of adding drive-up testing.It’s important to note that, if you are a student or employee who believes you have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should seek medical help immediately. Symptomatic individuals should not go to a MAP testing event. Employees or students who have tested positive or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 are encouraged to review the COVID-19 exposure scenarios and guidance and contact the Corona Corps Care Team via this web form.MAP’s current form of testing is through a self-collected anterior nasal swab (front of nose), analyzed using qPCR methods on machines in campus labs. The MAP team is working to implement saliva testing later this year, which will allow for an even higher volume of weekly tests and for the ability to further expand testing within Eugene and Lane County. Test results have a 48- to 96-hour turnaround time, though the vast majority have returned in less than 48 hours.COVID-19 testing capacity continues to be limited at the county and state level, so we are very fortunate to have these capabilities in-house, and we are both tremendously grateful to the MAP team members who have worked so hard to build this program from scratch. It is truly a fantastic example of how a great research university can quickly pivot and leverage faculty and staff expertise to serve a vital societal need. The MAP initiative and concurrent contact-tracing efforts—which are all conducted in collaboration with Lane County Public Health Authority—are critical to the continued successful operation of the university and the broader health and safety of the community.Thank you. Please stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President

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8 Responses to Promising news on COVID testing from Pres Schill

  1. Dog says:

    this is good but overdue

    I would like to know what technical, economic, and policy hurdles had to be overcome to delay this implementation here at UO: OSU seems ahead of us

    • ScienceDuck says:

      Didn’t they start doing 1000 tests a week starting last week? I mean, that is technically ahead but I’d say it is a similar timeframe.

      • Dog says:

        I am thinking more like a week before classes started …

        • ScienceDuck says:

          Both OSU and UO did incoming student testing, with UO testing twice. Now OSU has the TRACE program https://trace.oregonstate.edu/testing-results testing 446 students last week and 204 before that and UO starting their testing this week. I think the week or so slower start to UO’s next phase was because they did the extra round of testing all students on campus.

    • vhils says:

      We could argue that OSU has been overall a better run institution over the last decade, but in this case there are very specific reasons out of UO control. There’s a huge, huge, difference between running research labs and running clinical labs. OSU already had a clinical lab on its campus, all be it for animals (veterinary school lab), and was able to team up with a Corvalis-based commercial tox lab way back in April. UO had no such thing. From what I understand, building the back end infrastructure for a clinical lab usually takes at least a year, so they cut that time in about half. The other aspect which I think slowed them down was that early on they decided to go with saliva testing as a way to increase testing rates with students, which didn’t (doesn’t?) have FDA approval, and so I imagine the climb was even steeper, and moving back to nasal swab as an interim step, probably took time as well.

      • Dog says:

        yeah infrastructure backbone may will be important in this case as well as local partnerships, so this does make sense.

  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Terrific, have been advocating for this for weeks. Three questions: 1) the main problem at UO seems to be parties of students who live off campus. What is UO going to do about this? 2) if people test pos with these new easy fast tests, what action will be required, e.g. self quarantine? 3) After I explained the benefits of the new tests, a student asked me “my boyfriend and I share saliva, can he take the test for both of us?” I was uncharacteristically silent, touched at the unexpected somewhat intimate confidence entrusted in me, and a little flummoxed by my lack of knowledge. Anyone know?

  3. uomatters says:

    Gov Brown has just put Lane County on probation: “There is no question that the spread of COVID-19 in Lane County is connected — to a degree — to student social activities. Social gatherings, like off-campus parties, are incredibly dangerous and spread this disease,” Brown said in a statement. From https://eugeneweekly.com/2020/10/16/gov-kate-browns-eyes-are-on-lane-county/

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