President announces COVID-19 testing capacity expansion

Doctor with testing swab

UO President Michael H. Schill and Provost Patrick Phillips sent the following message to the campus community Oct. 15:

Dear University of Oregon community,

In the coming days, the University of Oregon will expand COVID-19 surveillance testing conducted by our in-house Monitoring and Assessment Program (MAP). Our first phase of MAP testing was primarily focused on students living in residence halls. Having that capability in-house was vital to our efforts to operate campus safely and responsibly this fall.

Regular mandatory testing will continue in our residence halls, and we are pleased that we are now in a position to expand MAP’s work to accommodate additional voluntary testing for some groups of employees and students, including students living off campus (with a focus on those in large apartment complexes or other congregate housing, such as fraternities and sororities), faculty and employees whose work requires them to be on campus, underserved communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and in some cases, the community at large. The MAP team is ramping up testing capacity to about 4,000 tests per week—beginning next week and expanding throughout the fall and into the winter.

There is nothing for you to do now. If you are in one of the groups that is being offered a voluntary testing opportunity, you will be contacted directly with detailed information about how to participate in testing events. During the fall, the testing efforts conducted by MAP will be free and will not require any insurance billing. Additionally, most testing events will continue to be at Matthew Knight Arena, but we are looking at another location in the west campus and the possibility of adding drive-up testing.

It’s important to note that, if you are a student or employee who believes you have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should seek medical help immediately. Symptomatic individuals should not go to a MAP testing event. Employees or students who have tested positive or think they have been exposed to COVID-19 are encouraged to review the COVID-19 exposure scenarios and guidance and contact the Corona Corps Care Team via this web form.

MAP’s current form of testing is through a self-collected anterior nasal swab (front of nose), analyzed using qPCR methods on machines in campus labs. The MAP team is working to implement saliva testing later this year, which will allow for an even higher volume of weekly tests and for the ability to further expand testing within Eugene and Lane County. Test results have a 48- to 96-hour turnaround time, though the vast majority have returned in less than 48 hours.

COVID-19 testing capacity continues to be limited at the county and state level, so we are very fortunate to have these capabilities in-house, and we are both tremendously grateful to the MAP team members who have worked so hard to build this program from scratch. It is truly a fantastic example of how a great research university can quickly pivot and leverage faculty and staff expertise to serve a vital societal need. The MAP initiative and concurrent contact-tracing efforts—which are all conducted in collaboration with Lane County Public Health Authority—are critical to the continued successful operation of the university and the broader health and safety of the community.   

Thank you. Please stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law

Patrick Phillips
Provost and Senior Vice President