As the Philadelphia Department Of Public Health calls the city a “high risk of community transmission” for COVID-19, Temple University will open a Covid-19 testing site in August and begin welcoming students back for the fall semester August 24th.
The site will be staffed by members of the health services team and can accommodate about 400 tests per week. The test site is expecting to obtain Abbot ID machines that can reveal a positive result in just 15 minutes. For now, students can expect results within 24 hours from Temple University Hospital.
According to Senior Director of Student and Employee Health Services Mark Denys, testing will be done on an appointment-only basis, as will all services at Student and Employee Health for the time being.
“Anybody that has risk factors or symptoms that could be indicative of COVID, they’re going to be sent to the testing center. And then other folks can be seen either telemedicine or may be seen in person at the health center,” Denys said.
Temple is not testing every student returning to campus, unlike the University of Pennsylvania, citing the practice to be a misuse of resources.
“Testing doesn’t prevent infections. It’s only a snapshot in time. So, if someone gets tested at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then they go out and practice risky behavior at 8 o’clock at night, your test result is, you know, kind of worthless,” Denys said.
Instead, Temple will be prioritizing those with symptoms and people in high-risk groups. Temple University Hospital Infectious Disease Physician Heather Clauss says there should be a prioritization when it comes to testing.
“The first step is to test the symptomatic people, you know, and then be able to isolate them or self-isolate or quarantine at home and not have them have any contact with anyone. And then be able to find all the people that they were in contact with in the preceding 5 to 7 days,” Clauss said.
Once a student is confirmed positive, a team of contact tracers from student health will notify the person’s close contacts.
According to the developer of Temple’s 10-hour online contact tracing course, Dr. Resa Jones, a need for robust contact tracing is key to preventing an outbreak. However, she has concerns about being students back on campus.
“What I’m worried about is students who are living in community settings or in the dorms and really just being too close to too many people, we could have outbreaks if people aren’t careful,” Jones said.
There are more than 550 contact tracers enrolled in the contact tracing certificate program from all around the world including. The course is free to Temple students and employees. members of the general public can receive the certificate of completion for $50.
Temple University College of Public Health refers people who have successfully completed the program to the state and local municipalities to become contact tracers.
There is no set opening date for the testing site, the University stated online that it will open by the start of the semester in August.