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COVID-19 testing updates (Nov. 13)

UMass Medical School Communications

November 13, 2020

A New Approach to COVID-19 Surveillance Testing at UMMS

Beginning Monday, November 16, UMMS will start a new testing procedure: ‘unobserved’ COVID-19 testing. While we expect that most testing will still take place in the Faculty Conference Room, employees and students will be expected to do this without direct instructions/observation by staff. During the next few weeks, observers will remain available on-site to guide this transition. Please identify yourself at check-in if this is your first visit to the testing center, as employees and students new to testing will be required to have an observed swab.

Employees enrolled in surveillance testing at UMMS are expected to schedule a test once per week during weeks when they are on campus for two or more days. Drop-ins are not allowed. Pre-clinical medical and nursing students and GSBS students are expected to get tested weekly if they are coming to campus at least one day per week. Clinical students (GEP, second year DNP, third and fourth-year medical students (including clinical year MD/PhD students) are strongly encouraged, but not required, to be tested weekly.

Please take note of several important reminders:

  1. Do not come to UMMS or to the testing center if you:
    a. have any COVID-19 symptoms;
    b. if you have been in contact with family or friends diagnosed with COVID-19; or
    c. if you have traveled to a higher risk state, traveled internationally, or traveled by air during the last 14 days without a negative PCR test a minimum of seven days after return.
  2. Report any symptoms or exposures to EHS (508-793-6400) or SHS (508-334-2818)
  3. Remember to blow/clean your nose in a private area prior to performing the nasal swab to ensure accurate test results.

A detailed step-by-step description of the new testing procedure is attached and can be found online here.

Health Self-Reporting App/Portal

As we see the number of COVID-19 cases rising throughout the state, it is especially important that employees complete the employee self-reporting tool every day before work by logging onto or the Now Mobile app. Anyone reporting symptoms should not report to work and must call EHS or SHS as above.

Holiday Planning and COVID-19

Holiday traditions should be different this year, as travel, gathering and eating with family and friends pose a significant risk of transmitting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The risk is so high that Governor Baker has issued special guidelines around Thanksgiving and other holidays.

We urge you to follow safer practices as we enter the season:

  • Wear a mask when not eating or drinking.
  • Celebrate with household members only.
  • Host a virtual holiday dinner, especially for individuals in ‘high risk’ groups (elderly, pre-existing conditions).
  • Limit any in-person gatherings to fewer than 10 people.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from others.
  • Wash hands as often as possible.
  • Celebrate outdoors or, if indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows.
  • Avoid travel to higher risk states.
  • If you have symptoms, stay home and do not attend any gatherings.
  • If you learn that you have been exposed to COVID-19, please stay home and call EHS (508-793-6400) or SHS (508-334-2818).