What if I have tested positive for COVID-19?
Follow the instructions on this handout for individuals who have tested positive.
What if I tested negative for COVID-19? 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.
Who is required to get tested?
Testing requirements and recommendations are listed at the bottom of the surveillance testing page.
Where can I get tested?
For required testing - a list of testing locations and their hours of operations are listed on the surveillance testing page.
Can I get my required testing somewhere else?
In order to have a green testing badge, which clears you for the testing requirements to be on campus, you must get tested through University Health Services.
Does it hurt to get tested?
The testing conducted is a self-administered nasal swab. It won't hurt, but it might be slightly uncomfortable. The test is different from the nasopharyngeal swab, which must be performed by a health care professional and can be painful. See the self-swab instructional PDF and self-swab video for a preview of what to expect.
Does testing collect DNA?
As is the case for any diagnostic test, patient samples include cells containing patient DNA as part of the respiratory fluids or mucus where SARS-CoV-2 may be present. However, the Innovative Genomics Institute diagnostic laboratory only tests these samples for the presence of two viral genes to provide a diagnostic result, and a single human RNA target, to ensure sufficient sample was provided. There is no sequence analysis performed on these samples during the diagnostic test.
To help combat the COVID-19 pandemic, leftover SARS-CoV-2-positive samples are de-identified and sent for viral sequencing as part of an international effort to track mutations and spread of the virus. Importantly, this project uses a technique that targets the viral genome, not the human genome, and no human genome sequences are processed or stored.
Do I need an appointment to get tested?
Yes, surveillance testing appointments are required for all locations and can be booked through eTang.
How long does it take to get tested?
Testing time is about 20 minutes from check-in to test completion. In rare instances, lines have formed at the testing site (for example the first day of testing after winter curtailment last week) but this is not the norm. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the busiest days at the testing sites, so if you do weekly testing, picking a date later in the week might be better.
How will the testing requirements be enforced?
A program is being developed to train student workers to assist in monitoring compliance with the badging requirement. If you need to enter a university building, you should be prepared to show a green testing badge. We also expect instructors, research directors, and managers to play a role in compliance in the course of their regular responsibilities.
Are participants in youth programs required to be tested?
Children participants in the early childhood program and other youth programs are exempt from the testing requirement. UC Berkeley-affiliated parents of participants are strongly encouraged to get tested but are not required to do so, unless they meet a separate requirement for mandatory testing. Teachers and other staff in these programs are included in the mandate.