UMBC recently completed its first round of pilot COVID-19 testing, in preparation for the Retriever community’s gradual return to campus in the coming weeks and months. The pilot invited participation from faculty, staff, and students who are approved to be on campus this summer. Over the course of two days, July 13 and 14, University Health Services (UHS) completed 325 COVID-19 tests and shared educational material on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Of the 321 results received so far, five employees and two students tested positive for COVID-19. This translates to a 2.18 percent positivity rate, compared to the current Maryland state positivity rate of 4.49 percent.
Responding to positive results
In cases where positive results were found, University Health Services asked individuals to self-isolate for 10 days and consult with their primary care physician, even if asymptomatic. UHS also connected with Baltimore County public health officials to complete contact tracing for positive individuals.
Employees who are self-isolating have also been advised that they can access leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) by contacting UMBC Human Resources.
Expanding public health measures
As UMBC approaches the fall, COVID-19 testing, daily symptom tracking, and online health and safety training will continue to expand. In the coming weeks, additional employees and students who are approved to work, teach, or live on campus will receive information about these next steps, including how to schedule a free COVID-19 test.
The University will not ask students, faculty, and staff who continue to work and study fully remotely to complete COVID-19 tests or to track symptoms. However, UMBC will continue to provide resources to help all UMBC community members stay informed about what the University is doing and what they can do to support everyone’s health, safety, and wellbeing.
In a recent interview with the Baltimore Business Journal (BBJ), Nancy Young, vice president of student affairs, emphasized the importance of minimizing COVID-19 spread through an array of strategies. These include encouraging community members to practice physical distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing, and creating safety protocols and signage to support those who will be on campus.
“We hope testing and tracing will be our last measures of protection,” Young told the BBJ. “They are essential,” she says, “but ultimately part of a much larger community-based strategy.”
Featured image: True Grit in a UMBC face mask. All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.