TO: USC Students, Faculty and University Staff
RE: Health Advisory regarding COVID-19 and update on Pop Testing
FR: Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA, Chief Health Officer, USC Student Health; Division Chief for College Health, Keck School of Medicine of USC
The recent data collected on COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and at USC points to a steady increase in test positivity and hospitalizations, a trend that is expected to continue over the next few weeks.
Masking to reduce transmission
We strongly recommend wearing medical-grade masks or respirator masks (including surgical, N95, KN95, KF94) when indoors around others to reduce transmission and risk of infection. Masking is most effective when there is both a good fit (no gaps, covering the nose, mouth, chin) and good filtration. If and when the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issues changes to the Public Health Officer order regarding indoor masking protocols, the university will align with required measures.
Pop Testing: Saliva Testing
Due to changes with our testing provider, after Friday, July 29, 2022, nasal swab testing will no longer be available through the Pop Testing program. The last day to schedule a nasal swab test will be Friday, July 29. After this date,saliva-based PCR tests will be the primary collection method used on-campus for students, staff, and faculty. You can pick up a take-home saliva collection kit from one of our campus testing locations (Jefferson Lot at UPC, Pappas Quad at HSC) and schedule a drop off of your sample through MySHR.
PCR tests provide high sensitivity for viral detection. All students, faculty and university employees may use Pop Testing if you are testing to return to campus/work from travel; if you think you may have been exposed; or if you are experiencing symptoms. Note—if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you are advised not to PCR test for routine screening because positive results may be due to remaining viral particles from your previous infection. You may use an antigen test if you have new onset of symptoms.
At-home antigen test kits are also an option, particularly if you are confirming a COVID-19 infection when you are experiencing symptoms. If you are using at-home kits to verify a negative status after a possible exposure, it is advisable to test twice:
- If you think you may have had en exposure, test 3-5 days after your exposure. If your first test is negative, take a second test 1-2 days later. Even if you test negative, you must wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days after any exposure.
- See additional information about PCR and Antigen tests, including obtaining home kits at no cost, through your insurance and the U.S. Postal Service.
Please report all positive results from outside or at home tests by completing the “Contact Tracing Form for Persons with a Positive COVID-19 Test” form located at MySHR. Upload a copy of your positive result.
Student Health is available to all students with questions about their health status, including by secure message (through MySHR) or by 24/7 telephone service at 213-740-9355 (WELL). Additionally, specific medical appointments for evaluating respiratory conditions (breathing/congestion, coughing) are available for students and bookable through MySHR.
General questions about COVID-19 may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 213-740-6291.