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COVID-19 Update: Carolina Together Testing Program Update

Student assembling COVID-19 test packs.
Elayne Wang, a second year dental student in the School of Dentistry, prepares COVID-19 test packs on April 2, 2021, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "I love being able to help the community, especially during this time in a pandemic where everything is so different," said Wang, "It's great to be able to make a difference." (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Dear Carolina Community,

We are excited to welcome you back to Carolina, and it’s nice to see campus bustling with students, faculty and staff busy teaching, learning and supporting the University’s mission each day. As of today, we have over 27,000 students and over 13,700 faculty and staff who have attested to being vaccinated. We are sharing today several updates from the Carolina Together Testing Program (CTTP) as well as the cluster notification process.

First, we set a record number of tests at the Carolina Together Testing Center at the Carolina Union in one day this week, conducting more than 2,000 tests on Monday, Aug. 30, and over 6,500 tests last week. Our positivity rate for Aug. 23-30 was 2.45% for the asymptomatic testing through CTTP and 8% for symptomatic testing at Campus Health, which are lower than the current daily positivity rate of 14.5% in North Carolina.

Compared to the summer session, the increase in testing volume and the prevalence of the delta variant does mean our case numbers have increased. We are encouraged by the decrease in our positive cases shown in early testing this week, and we will continue to monitor these trends. We are working closely with University leadership and the Roadmap Implementation Team on mitigation strategies, and we are all prepared to make changes to our approach to help limit the spread of the virus.

Testing Guidance

Currently, the University requires unvaccinated students to be tested at the center twice a week, and beginning Sept. 15 employees who are unvaccinated will be required to get tested once a week. People who are identified as a close contact and are asymptomatic can get tested at the center. In addition, from time to time we are asking students in residence halls to proactively get tested when we have multiple cases in a specific area.

We do not recommend testing more than once a week if you are asymptomatic, vaccinated and not considered a close contact. COVID-19 Community Standards and contact tracing requirements are all important needs for the CTTP, and we need our resources and staff, largely volunteers in the center, to focus on those needs. The center is open and available for asymptomatic vaccinated students, faculty and staff to voluntary testing, and we have seen very few, if any, positive cases from truly asymptomatic vaccinated individuals who are not close contacts. Individuals with symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, should be tested at Campus Health for students and your healthcare provider for faculty and staff.

If you have received a positive test result, please do not continue to test at CTTP. Testing is not recommended for 90 days after a confirmed positive and continued testing does not decrease your duration of isolation.

Updated: Cluster Notifications

When the University began the cluster notification process last August, our country was in a very different place with the virus, and as we have all adapted over the last year, we have also modified the way we notify our campus of clusters, moving from emergency Alert Carolina notifications to social media notifications last fall. We have once again evaluated the way we are providing these notifications, and after consulting with the Orange County Health Department, we will now update the Carolina Together dashboard with any clusters in residence halls and fraternity and sorority houses as well as new case counts each weekday and provide a regular email from the CTTP summarizing the latest information from testing and clusters.

As a reminder, when clusters occur, close contacts are informed through the tracing process. Residents in the hall or the specific floors of the hall who receive the email from Carolina Housing and Campus Health directing them to proactively test at the Carolina Together Testing Center are asked to do so out of an abundance of caution, not as close contacts.

Labor Day

Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6, is a University holiday and the CTTP center will be closed. If you need symptomatic testing that day, Campus Health will be open 8am-5pm, and the weekend fee has been waived. Since this will be our first long weekend of the semester, please be safe and continue to follow the COVID-19 Community Standards even when off campus. In addition, monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 upon your return and get tested at Campus Health if any symptoms arise.

We are happy and encouraged to see so many people testing regularly. These efforts continue to protect your health and safety as well as the health and safety of others, particularly with the ongoing community spread in our state and community. As we’ve said before, the best step you can take is getting COVID-19 vaccine and protecting yourself by wearing a mask indoors, so please continue to follow those guidelines every day.

Sincerely,

 

The Carolina Together Testing Program

 

This message is sponsored by: Carolina Together Testing Program