Testing for COVID-19

COVID-19 Testing Information

University Health Services offers two types of testing on campus: symptomatic/clinical tests and surveillance/asymptomatic tests. All testing can be ordered online at eTang, where you will be guided to the appropriate testing site. More information can be found below. 

Differences in the two types of tests can be found on our COVID-19 Tests comparison chart.

Testing for Travel Purposes/Documentation

 Please be advised that UHS cannot accommodate the 24-hour COVID testing for travel requirements that the CDC has recently announced(link is external). Please see our testing for travel purposes webpage for a list of places that specialize in this testing/turnaround times.  Airports are also options and offer testing for travel. 

If You Tested Positive Outside of UHS

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of UHS, we’re here to help. Please call University Health Services to inform our clinical teams so they can offer you support, and ensure those around you receive appropriate guidance.

  • Students: (510) 642-2000 press option 2 to reach COVID Customer Service Line
  • Faculty/staff: (510) 332-7192 to reach COVID Reporting Line

Please see our guidance on:

Attention: Assembly Bill 685 requires the University to report the names and worksite locations of all employees and student employees who have positive COVID-19 test results to all campus unions. If you do not want your identity to be disclosed in this union notification, you must complete this form.  

What does a NEGATIVE COVID-19 test mean?  Am I safe?

First question to ask is which type of test?

  • Antigen tests, which account for almost all “rapid” (same day) test, are in general more likely to provide you with a false negative result.  Depending on the brand, sensitivity is estimated at 30-85% -- lowest in people without symptoms.

  • PCR (DNA) tests are much more reliable, however they still are not 100% sensitive, meaning in someone with symptoms typical for COVID, a single negative test result does not put you in the clear.  

Second question is: have you engaged in any risky activities within the 2 weeks before the test?

  • The incubation period for COVID-19 is generally considered to be up to 14 days (although longer has occasionally been detected).  If you test too soon, you may be falsely reassured.  In general: you should not rely on any test collected within 5 days of an exposure, and even if you wait until 7 days after an exposure, you will still miss an infection (and still be infectious) 1% of the time. 

Take home message: a single negative test will only provide so much reassurance, and timing is critical.  Do not make the mistake of assuming you are safe and can therefore drop your guard and meet some friends for dinner: we are seeing a lot of infections traced to this assumption.