With COVID-19 cases surging throughout Los Angeles County, CSUDH has enacted a new testing program for students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus during the spring 2021 semester. Surveillance testing kicked off during the second week of January, with testing continuing every Wednesday throughout the semester.
“We have implemented repeat testing this semester in order to provide a level of assurance to those working and learning on campus that they can be on campus safely,” says Nora Garcia, CSUDH Emergency Preparedness Manager.
Repeat testing, also known as surveillance testing, is a public health protocol that allows health officials to more closely monitor COVID-19’s presence in a community and respond accordingly to stop the spread. CSUDH joins several other CSU campuses and universities across the country in providing this extra level of protection.
The program at CSUDH is only intended for those that will be having sustained interaction on campus. Weekly testing will be required for students in University Housing and those taking face-to-face classes, and strongly encouraged for faculty teaching face-to-face courses and staff who have been approved for sustained work on campus. The tests will be available by appointment only, and eligible students, faculty, and staff will be sent a link to register and schedule an appointment.
Garcia also stressed that the test is only for asymptomatic individuals (those not experiencing COVID-19-related symptoms at the time of the test).
The drive-through testing site is located in Parking Lot 1, where signs and markers will guide drivers through the process. “Medical personnel will ask their name, verify that they have an appointment, then perform the test,” says Garcia. “I got tested myself, and it does not hurt. It’s very easy.” The samples are then packaged and sent directly to a Phamatech Laboratories & Diagnostics testing facility.
“I’ve been very impressed,” says Garcia. “It’s a very efficient process.” Test results are available in between 24-48 hours, and are emailed to participants.
Those returning to campus temporarily are not eligible or required to be tested weekly, but everyone returning to campus, even temporarily, are required to conduct a self-assessment through the iToros mobile app before coming.
Garcia stresses that the testing program does not supersede or replace any of the existing health and safety protocols currently in effect on campus. “Wearing face coverings, maintaining social distance, all those rules remain in effect,” she says. “Testing is only one tool in the toolbox. It definitely does not replace those protocols.”
For those community members who have been asking about vaccine distribution, Garcia advises patience. CSUDH falls under the authority of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which is currently in Phase 1A of the vaccine roll-out. CSUDH employees will not become eligible until the county moves into Phase 1B. Garcia has notified state and county officials of the availability of the CSUDH campus as a vaccine distribution site once the university moves into the next phase.
“I have worked with county health departments to prepare for something like this,” says Garcia, “so I’m confident that when and if the time comes and we are selected, we are prepared to push it out. If DH is selected, we’ll be ready!
Free drive-through COVID surveillance testing for eligible students, faculty, and staff will be available in CSUDH Parking Lot 1, every Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Appointments required. For more information, please visit https://www.csudh.edu/together/testing.