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UC San Diego program aims to test students every month for COVID-19

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Posted at 5:23 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 20:29:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — UC San Diego hopes to eventually test all of its students, staff, and faculty for COVID-19 every month starting as early as September under a new program.

The college system said Tuesday that its "Return to Learn" program will begin its initial phase on May 11. Self-administered, nasal swab-based coronavirus test will be made available to more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students living on campus.

Here's how it works:

Once a student is enrolled, they will visit a designated site on campus to pickup their test and collection container. The participant will scan the barcode on the container, linking it with their information. The participant will swab the inside of their own nose and drop the swap in the container. They then leave the container to be picked up by program workers. Swabs are then tested on-campus for COVID-19.

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The program's team will also look for evidence of coronavirus in residential wasterwater and surface collections.

If successful, the plan could be expanded to about 65,000 people in the UCSD community every month. The university's hope is to be better prepared to resume in-person education as early as September.

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"This effort will leverage the ingenuity and expertise of our clinicians, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, bioinformaticians, and others to work toward a tailored map of where the virus is, and where it isn’t," said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. "We expect these efforts to help put us in the best possible position to minimize virus outbreaks and implement new interventions as needed, should we resume in-person activities this fall."

The program includes plans for notifying people of exposure and isolated housing for on-campus students who test positive for coronavirus.

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If a participant tests positive for COVID-19, they will be notified and advised to seek medical care.

The program's contact tracing team will also try to identify and notify others who may have been exposed. Those positive cases will also be reported to the county.