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Testing and Contact Tracing

Updated September 26, 2020

COVID-19 Testing

Caltech provides COVID-19 testing for all members of the community (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and students) through Student Wellness Services (SWS).

You are eligible for testing through SWS if:

  • You are experiencing COVID-like symptoms;
  • You have been identified as a close contact of an ill person;
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • Or you have participated in activities that present an elevated risk for exposure.

Contact SWS by phone (626-395-6393, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.), so that a medical provider can evaluate your situation and provide you with further instructions. Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms should also promptly report the illness through the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting App.

In general, test results are available within 24-48 hours, and provided at no cost to the individual.

Individuals who do not have specific risk factors for exposure to COVID-19 may be referred to testing through primary care providers or other testing resources in the community.

All incoming graduate students will be tested upon arrival, and required to quarantine for seven days. At the end of the quarantine period, each student will be retested, and on confirmation of a negative result will be moved to their permanent housing assignment.

The Institute continues to explore approaches to surveillance testing, and is currently evaluating both epidemiologically-informed models for sampling community members as well as emerging technologies and ongoing developments in the testing landscape.

SWS ordered several point-of-care, rapid result instruments for COVID-19 testing; supply of these instruments has been directed to critical care settings, delaying the arrival to our campus. We will continue to pursue additional options and deploy this technology as soon as it is available.

Contact Tracing

In accordance with public health guidelines and patient privacy rules, broadly distributed positive case notifications include the Caltech affiliation of an ill individual (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholar, students) and the date they last accessed campus.

The contact-tracing process identifies close contacts (those who spend 15 minutes or more within six feet) and evaluates each situation to determine whether additional notifications to potentially impacted individuals are indicated. The Caltech COVID-19 Reporting App, tracing interviews, and building card swipe data are used to facilitate this process. Individuals who are determined to be close contacts will receive a phone call from the contact tracing team, offered COVID-19 testing, and provided instructions for quarantine.

More specific information related to the rooms a COVID-19 positive person accessed is provided to the division leadership, operation officers, principal investigators, and custodial services for the purpose of facilitating cleaning and disinfection, and managing business operations.