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COVID-19 Update: Thanksgiving Testing, New Rapid Tests & More

Nov. 9, 2020 

Dear Saint Louis University community, 

Our thanks to all of SLU students who participated in our survey gauging interest in testing prior to Thanksgiving break. Your feedback has helped direct us. In fact, many more of you expressed a desire to be tested than we had expected.  

Our campus infection rate is very low 

Even with our recent increase in cases, our campus positivity rate remains significantly lower than the positivity rate in the greater St Louis region, Missouri, and almost all U.S. states.  

The vast majority of our students who have tested positive had exhibited COVID-19 symptoms or had a known exposure to an infected person. If you are asymptomatic and have not had a known exposure — meaning, you are being vigilant about face mask wearing and social distancing — your risk of having COVID-19 now is extremely low. 

Students can get pre-Thanksgiving COVID testing 

We will offer optional COVID-19 testing on campus prior to Thanksgiving break, prioritizing those students who are returning home to at-risk loved ones. We also will prioritize those who must be tested due to travel requirements or restrictions in their home state or country.  

Again, a negative test is not a free pass to disregard the Campus Commitment and our public health protocols. A negative COVID-19 test is a single snapshot in time and is not representative of the hours and days that follow. You must wear your face mask. You must practice social distancing.  

Pre-Thanksgiving break testing details 

Here are the current details for those students who wish to be tested before returning home for Thanksgiving break: 

The meaning of a COVID-19 test result

Before being tested for COVID-19, it’s important that to know what test results mean:

Other COVID-19 testing locations 

There are numerous locations for students, faculty and staff who are not presenting COVID-19 symptoms to be tested for infection. You can find the list of available testing sites on the City's Health Department website

Students may also wish to be tested in their local community after they return home, closer to the holiday. Check your local public health department’s website for information about testing sites in your region.  

There are also direct-to-consumer or at-home test kits that you may obtain:

Thanksgiving break COVID-19-prevention plans 

If you plan to return to a household with an at-risk family member or friend, it’s essential that you plan ahead to minimize your risk of exposure and illness between now and the Thanksgiving and winter breaks.  

This doesn’t have to be a formal quarantine, but you should be extra vigilant to reduce the likelihood that you will take COVID-19 home with you. This means:

It’s important to remember that, if you’ve mostly been living on campus, even your immediate family members may not be in your current “bubble,” so even a Thanksgiving meal among your immediate family requires continued caution. Some students may opt to depart campus earlier than Nov. 24 to allow themselves quarantine time at home prior to Thanksgiving dinner.  

Other general Thanksgiving and travel recommendations:

If you develop symptoms 

Using the #CampusClear app is an easy way to monitor the onset of potential COVID symptoms every day. Remember, the symptoms of COVID-19 and regular flu are similar.  

If you develop symptoms or believe that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must call Student Health right away at 314-977-2323. You may not “self-isolate” in your regular on-campus residence while awaiting test results. Compliance with this expectation is a part of the Campus Commitment

New rapid test coming soon 

The State of Missouri is providing a new rapid test for COVID-19 to the Student Health Center. It should be available in the next week or so.  

Like the current rapid test at Student Health, this new test is available only for symptomatic students. The new rapid test is not effective at detecting COVID-19 among those who are asymptomatic. If you are asymptomatic and want to be tested, please use one of the resources listed above. 

Please stay safe and healthy.  

Terri Rebmann, Ph.D., RN, CIC, FAPIC
Special Assistant to the President
Director, Institute for Biosecurity 
Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
College for Public Health & Social Justice