A robust testing program is vital for maintaining the health and safety of the IU Fort Wayne Community during the ongoing pandemic. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, IU Fort Wayne will begin mitigation testing for all faculty, staff and students beginning Monday, August 31.
The goal of mitigation testing is to quickly identify and isolate any individuals who test positive for COVID-19, including asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The testing will also deliver a clearer picture of how the virus may be spreading, including early detection of potential "COVID clusters."
"If (mitigation testing) occurs at a very early stage, we can get people into quarantine and isolation before they can even have a chance to infect others," Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, director of surveillance and mitigation for IU's COVID-19 pandemic response team, said during a Keeping IU Healthy town hall. "Models show that (this) level of screening is ... our best tool to try to keep any kind of outbreak ... at bay."
Mitigation testing will cover thousands of people per week across all IU campuses. The tests will be conducted using saliva samples, which is sufficient for the purposes of mitigation testing. Nasopharyngeal swabs will not be required for mitigation testing.
Individuals randomly selected for mitigation testing will be notified by email and must make an appointment to complete their test on campus by Friday of that week. If selected, individuals are required to participate unless they meet a very narrow set of exemption criteria.
"Indiana University has put in place one of the most robust and comprehensive testing programs I've seen. Once we're at full capacity for mitigation testing, we'll be testing more folks on a weekly basis than the entire state of Indiana," said Carroll, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. "First and foremost, we want our campus community to be safe. We believe this type of mitigation testing program is one key piece of our health and safety plan."
Test results will be available in two to five days.
If the test is negative, individuals should continue with their normal routine.
If the test is positive, individuals will be contacted by an IU contact tracer and receive detailed instructions on isolation and next steps, including downloading the Twistle app. Through Twistle, individuals will receive daily prompts to check their temperature and monitor other symptoms. If symptoms worsen, Twistle will alert an IU Health nurse to call and check in with that person. In addition, students need to complete the CARE Referral Form for Purdue University Fort Wayne. The CARE team provides support for students on the Fort Wayne campus.
Participation in mitigation testing is essential to IU's ability to continue safely offering in-person education this year; without it, the university has no way to identify asymptomatic cases before they spread to others. Consequently, students, faculty and staff contacted for mitigation testing who fail to take the COVID-19 test may be subject to disciplinary actions, up to removal from campus or being placed on administrative leave without pay. Further details are provided to students in the Student Commitment Form and to faculty and staff in the Community Responsibility Acknowledgement.
Students, faculty and staff who do not come to campus this semester may be exempt from mitigation testing. A link to an exemption request form will be made available upon contact.