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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Surveillance COVID-19 Testing

Last Updated: May. 4, 2022 at 3:26 pm

Lehigh contracted with Vault Health to handle our surveillance testing program. Surveillance testing is required for unvaccinated community members who receive a medical or religious exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement. Throughout the semester, there also may be targeted surveillance testing conducted for vaccinated community members.

  • The cost of required surveillance testing is covered by the University.
  • Do not complete a surveillance test if: 1. you feel sick, 2. have been identified as a close contact requiring quarantine, or 3. if it has been within 90 days since you tested positive for COVID-19. Alternative testing is arranged for close contacts, and a negative test does not remove a person who is identified as a close contact from quarantine.
  • For students: If it has been within 90 days after you tested positive and you tested through a source other than Lehigh, please indicate this by uploading your positive test results on the HWC patient portal with the required information, including your name, date of your test, the type of test (antibody tests are not accepted), and your results.
  • As a reminder, one can test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms. If you do test positive, you must isolate. Students will be instructed to isolate as per our isolation and quarantine protocol.
  • A negative test does not indicate that you are not infected or that you will not get infected in the coming days. It only indicates that you are not shedding detectable levels of the virus at the time that you took the test. Given the incubation time of the virus, tests will likely be negative for 2-3 days after the initial infection. Wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and practicing positive health behaviors are most critical.
  • Lehigh conducts separate testing for students who are experiencing symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts. 

 

Contact info:

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions marked with a bell emoji have been added recently.

Surveillance Testing

No. Vault’s SARS-CoV-2 test will only be performed in the laboratory after (1) a licensed test supervisor orders the test for an individual and (2) the sample collection is observed by a test supervisor (via Zoom-enabled video supervised testing for those taking the at-home test, and in person for those taking the test on campus). Once the sample has been received by and tested in the laboratory, the individual will receive results via electronic reporting.

If saliva is not collected under supervision from a test supervisor, the test results will be invalidated.

If you are awaiting a surveillance test result and are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine. If you took a test because you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or were specifically directed by the Health and Wellness Center to quarantine or isolate, you must do so until you receive your test result. 

This RT-qPCR test is very sensitive for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, with 98% of tests providing either a positive or a negative result, and only 2% of tests providing an inconclusive result. The test can detect fewer than 10 copies of viral genes per milliliter of saliva, and can detect the presence of virus in the saliva within 2 days of infection and up to 28 days after infection.   Across all known gene sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the test detects the ones in the genes of interest ~100% of the time, making it highly sensitive and specific for those genes.  

The false positive and false negative rates for this are both 1%.  A “false positive” is a result that is positive that actually should have been negative, and a “false negative” is a negative result that should have been positive. With a false positive and negative rate of 1%, this means that 99% of the time, a positive or negative result is the actual result after just a single test.  To put this in context, a lot of COVID-19 tests have a low false positive rate, but the false negative rates of some nasopharyngeal swab-based tests can be as high as 25-35%.

This RT-qPCR test detects specific genes from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes COVID-19. After individuals provide a sample of their saliva, the virus's genetic material is extracted from it and these specific genes are looked for in a laboratory.  If they are present, the test is considered positive.

All students, faculty and staff have the option of ordering a COVID-19 test directly from Vault Health. However, Lehigh will only be supporting the costs of tests for those who are required to be tested. The cost for ordering an individual test is $150. If you are paying for your own test, please note that the university will not receive your results. Students must contact the Health and Wellness Center if you receive a positive result. 

The likelihood of a false positive from this PCR test is very small. We’ve received questions from students who tested positive for COVID-19 on a surveillance test and later received a negative result from a rapid test. To be clear, the likelihood of a false positive from the PCR saliva tests that we are using for surveillance testing is small. Rapid tests, which are often antigen tests, are much more likely to return false negative results and do not “prove” that a surveillance test was a false positive. For those who receive a positive result from our Vault Health surveillance tests, it is critical that even if you don’t have symptoms, you isolate immediately rather than seeking out additional tests and risk spreading the virus. More information regarding the data to support the accuracy of this test is included below under “Additional Information.” Because the likelihood of getting a false positive is low, Vault Health does not recommend taking another test after testing positive, even if you don’t have symptoms. In addition, once a student has a positive surveillance test, per guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health they are considered to be a positive case and must follow isolation guidelines.  

Additional Information:

This RT-qPCR test is very sensitive for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, with 98% of tests providing either a positive or a negative result, and only 2% of tests providing an inconclusive result. The test can detect fewer than 10 copies of viral genes per milliliter of saliva, and can detect the presence of virus in the saliva within 2 days of infection and up to 28 days after infection.  Across all known gene sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the test detects the ones in the genes of interest ~100% of the time, making it highly sensitive and specific for those genes. The false positive and false negative rates for this are both 1%. A ‘false positive’ is a result that is positive that actually should have been negative, and a “false negative” is a negative result that should have been positive. With a false positive and negative rate of 1%, this means that 99% of the time, a positive or negative result is the actual result after just a single test. To put this in context, a lot of COVID-19 tests have a low false positive rate, but the false negative rates of some nasopharyngeal swab-based tests can be as high as 25-35%.

Yes, Infinity BiologiX is a CLIA and CAP accredited laboratory. The test performed by Infinity BiologiX is a NAAT test (nucleic acid amplification test). This test is an RT PCR test and meets guidelines for most interstate and international travel, but please refer to the guidelines specified for entry to your destination.

For students, non-compliance will result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations, which could result in suspension from the university. For faculty and staff, non-compliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

This is because individuals who have tested positive may continue to have positive viral tests (antigen or PCR tests, including the VAULT saliva tests) for up to 90 days after infection. These students should continue wearing a mask and social distancing. And after this period, people should not consider themselves “immune” or unable to transmit the virus, as there is clear evidence that people can be reinfected with COVID-19. Some information on this is included below.

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/reinfection.html

The new variants are still being studied, but a recent study points to more concerning evidence that new variants may be even more contagious re: reinfection as well: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00183-5/fulltext#articleInformation

How long "immunity" lasts is still being studied: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/more-people-are-getting-covid-19-twice-suggesting-immunity-wanes-quickly-some

General Vaccine Information

Students, faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated do not need to socially distance and do NOT need to quarantine if they have been identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic. However, the CDC and DOH may recommend that testing occur after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Check the PA DOH and CDC websites for the most updated guidance. 

All individuals with symptoms (students, faculty, staff), even those fully vaccinated, must still complete diagnostic testing.

For the policies unvaccinated individuals must follow, please refer to the applicable FAQs under the headings for “Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement” and “Student Vaccine Requirement.”

Health & Safety

Unfortunately, Lehigh's Health & Wellness Center (HWC) is only able to recognize positive self-reports with proper documentation. Since you do not have proper documentation on file with the HWC, if you test positive, you will be required to follow Lehigh's isolation and testing protocols.