Since the start of the pandemic, University Health Services has been testing people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have had a close exposure with a positive case. This type of testing, referred to as clinical testing or symptomatic testing, continues to this day.
In addition, the campus has been screening asymptomatic members of the UC Berkeley community. This type of testing is sometimes referred to as surveillance testing, or community screening. This effort was initially focused on students living in congregate housing who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. It kicked off in August with students living in residence halls, who are required to be tested twice per week. This was followed by students living in congregate housing such as Greek houses and the co-ops. These students are also at high risk and are strongly encouraged to be tested.
Testing has also been expanded to clinical trainees and higher risk essential workers. Community screening was moved to the large Field House at the Rec Sports Facility to accommodate this expansion.
Regular surveillance testing is a critical component of helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The campus is working towards having the capacity to conduct up to 60,000 tests monthly and open up testing to more of the campus community. To accommodate this volume, an additional sample collection site will open at Memorial Stadium within the coming weeks.
Faculty and staff who are currently approved to be on campus during the pandemic can also get tested through the IGI Saliva Testing (FAST) Study. Find out more and sign up for an appointment with IGI. [UPDATED Jan. 4, 2021: The IGI FAST Study is now closed.]
University Health Services does expect to see both isolated cases and small clusters within our campus population, given local epidemiology and transmission occurrences in the city of Berkeley. They see no cause for concern at the current rate as long as everyone continues to wear facial coverings, maintains six feet of physical distance with non-household members and follows other public health guidelines. Contact tracing has been working well and those involved have been very cooperative.
With the increase in testing, it is both expected and advantageous that we are identifying cases that might have otherwise gone undetected. Through early identification, isolation, and contact tracing, we are able to get ahead of potential spreads, even before the infected person may be aware they are infectious.