Testing is an important part of a comprehensive, layered public health plan to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses and across Minnesota, along with measures like physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and good health habits.
In October, the University of Minnesota announced the COVID-19 Saliva Testing Program. Through it, students, faculty, and staff on all five campuses are able to request one at-home saliva test through Vault Health. This additional testing option is provided at no cost to students, faculty, and staff. This test is available to use at an individual’s discretion, should they be concerned about exposure to COVID-19. Using the test, however, is not required.
For faculty and staff, this program is supported through a partnership with Governor Tim Walz and the State of Minnesota. On October, 9, 2020, the Board of Regents approved funding to expand the program to all students systemwide
Additionally, the University has MTest — the University’s testing protocol launched earlier this year — aimed at testing, identifying, and isolating individuals who are symptomatic, test positive, or who have been exposed to a positive COVID-19 case. MTest was developed by our Health Emergency Response Office.
To best prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, all members of the University community should maintain physical distancing, wear face coverings, and practice good health habits. In addition to these proven public health measures, the University has implemented a systemwide testing protocol called MTest.
MTest is aimed at identifying and testing individuals who are symptomatic or have had a confirmed exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, described as being within six feet of a positive individual for at least 15 minutes.
This set of public health protocols was developed by our Health Emergency Response Office with support from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and experts from Boynton Health, the University’s Medical School and School of Public Health on the Twin Cities campus, and UMD’s Health Services Medical Director Dr. David Worley.
The University’s testing protocols follow guidance for higher education institutions from public health experts, including MDH and University health experts.
Those who are symptomatic or have had exposure (defined as being in close proximity of less than six feet for 15 minutes or more) to someone with a confirmed COVID-19 positive test, should contact:
- Students: UMD Health Services at 218-726-8155 or other trusted testing facilities.
- Faculty and Staff: Their healthcare provider or other trusted testing facilities.
When a member of the University community tests positive for COVID-19 and is symptomatic, they will be instructed by public health officials to isolate for 10 days after symptoms first appear to reduce the risk of infecting others. Isolation should then continue until the individual has experienced 24 hours without a fever and other symptoms have improved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a 10-day isolation period for those known to be infected with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.
University housing and dining services will support students living on campus who require isolation or quarantine. Those who have been notified of their exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case may be instructed to remain in quarantine, in a space with a separate room and bathroom, for at least 14 days or until otherwise directed by health care or public health professionals. Students who do not live on campus will need to make a plan in case they are instructed by public health officials to isolate or quarantine in their residence.
Case investigation and contact tracing
Students, faculty, and staff who have tested positive or who have been exposed to a confirmed positive case will be notified by health care or public health officials through contact tracing and will learn what precautions should be taken. As a result, you may be contacted by University, local, county or state public health officials.
Names of individuals who test positive or who may have been exposed will not be released, per HIPAA and FERPA rules.
The University of Minnesota Duluth will carefully monitor public health data collected and tracked by local and state health officials to determine if and when the University should alter its current operational status.
To slow the spread of COVID-19 and support the health of our community, it is vital that each of us continues to practice simple and effective prevention measures.
University of Minnesota Health Emergency Response Office (HERO)
Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Resource Center
State of Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization