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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Lehigh University COVID-19 Testing Types

Last Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:37 pm

Lehigh currently utilizes four modes of testing:

1) Diagnostic testing for symptomatic students seen at the Health and Wellness Center (HWC), also called “point of care testing” or rapid testing. Located at Johnson Hall, the HWC provides health services to students only. Testing of symptomatic students involves obtaining a nasal swab specimen for PCR testing.  Tests are run on a “Cepheid” machine that is available in the HWC with same-day turnaround.  These tests take about an hour to run, but because of the test capacity of the machine, and number of tests that can be performed at the same time, there is a limited number of tests that can be run each day; therefore, the HWC reserves these tests for the most symptomatic students or for situations in which having results in an hour is critical - for example because the risk of further spread is particularly high.  At times, depending on current needs, the HWC may obtain specimens to be sent out for testing at HNL labs.  These tests typically have a 24-48 hour turnaround time. 

2) Saliva Specimen collection for asymptomatic close contacts. Turnaround times are usually between 24-36 hours, though this may be longer. Close contacts who are tested, even if they test negative, per Lehigh University protocol must complete quarantine (unless fully vaccinated). They may not "test out" of quarantine. 

3) Surveillance testing for asymptomatic students through Vault Health. Students should NOT use this surveillance testing as a way to obtain a test if they are having symptoms or believe they have been a close contact of a positive case. Students, faculty and staff are emailed if required to participate in surveillance testing. The cost of required surveillance testing is covered by the university. 

The same kinds of Vault tests are provided for both #2 and #3; however, surveillance tests are scheduled at different times than close contact tests. In this way, scheduling helps avoid unvaccinated asymptomatic people having potential exposure to people who have had recent contact with a COVID-positive person. These Vault tests are available to faculty, staff and students.

4) Outside testing. Students may be referred by the Health and Wellness Center or reach out on their own to the 24/7 Lehigh Valley Health Network Nurse Information Line that is working collaboratively with the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center for assessment of symptoms and referral for testing at three different LVHN locations off-campus.

All students, on and off-campus, fully remote or not, have access to each of these forms of testing.

For other testing options and to schedule tests, students can reference the compilation of testing resources

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How many people can be tested by the school each day? 

There are different types of tests offered based on whether an individual is symptomatic or a close contact, or if they are required to be tested as part of surveillance testing. At any given time, students who are experiencing symptoms can schedule an appointment to be tested at the HWC. Approximately 30 tests can be run per day at the HWC on the Cepheid machine. The number of testing appointments per day is adjusted based on the most current campus needs.

How much do students pay for tests if they don't have insurance on file? Is this a change from last year? 

HNL will bill insurance and if the test is not covered by insurance, they bill Lehigh.  Surveillance and close contact testing that is done through Lehigh (ie: Vault tests done through Lehigh and NOT ones that students/faculty/staff may go on to VAULT site and "order" on their own) are paid for by Lehigh. Testing that is done at community providers is billed to student insurance and Lehigh is not responsible for any balance that may be due.  Lehigh's Student Health Insurance Plan does cover testing for exposure or symptoms.

Who can get tested at the Health and Wellness Center and who will be redirected to the STEPS tent?  

Testing at the Health and Wellness Center is focused on students who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms. The STEPS tent is for surveillance testing (for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff) as well as close contact testing (for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty and staff with mild or no symptoms - who have been notified or believe they are a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID).

In what cases are students directed to off-campus testing centers? 

Any student who is more than mildly symptomatic should see a health care provider in addition to getting a test. If the HWC can see the student they will. If, because of appointments being filled or because the student contacts the HWC at night or on the weekend, they may be advised that they can access testing resources in the community or seek care at one of the local urgent care facilities  https://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/covid-19-testing-resources-0

If a student is mildly symptomatic or is asymptomatic and has been notified or believe they are a close contact, they may schedule a COVID test at the STEPS tent at the following link https://luscovidtesting.as.me/schedule.php?calendarID=5140351

Why are some forms of testing utilized over others depending on the situation?

Rapid diagnostic tests are utilized primarily for students experiencing symptoms. It is important for symptomatic students and Health and Wellness Center staff to know test results quickly so they can make treatment recommendations appropriately and to isolate the student, if necessary, so the potential for spread of the virus to others can be reduced.

The same decision principles around testing apply for on-campus as for off-campus students. 

Do faculty and staff have the same options when it comes to COVID-19 testing at the school? 

Services of the HWC are only available to students. Testing in the STEPS tent is not directly provided by the HWC and so this is available to students as well as faculty and staff. Testing at Johnson Hall is not available to faculty and staff. For faculty and staff, the University has partnered with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) for occupational health services and medical consultation.  There is an LVHN Nurse Care Manager who serves as the point of contact for Lehigh staff and faculty with COVID-related concerns or questions. This resource is available to all Lehigh faculty and staff. Faculty and staff who received approved medical or religious exemptions from the COVID vaccination requirement are required to complete regular surveillance testing, just as students with such exemptions are required to be tested regularly.  The LVHN 24/7 Nurse Line is available to Lehigh Students to call with COVID related symptoms or to arrange testing or evaluation at one of the LVHN sites; in addition there is walk-in testing available at the Care on Demand Highland Avenue site (for students, faculty and staff).