Weekly COVID-19 Testing Clinic Update: March 22, 2021

Published:
March 22, 2021

Dear Grinnellians,

SHAW cares deeply about your health and the health of our community. We are proud of the commitment our students, faculty, and staff are making every day to prevent transmission. Please continue to practice pandemic precautions.

Testing Clinic Results

Results for the week of March 15, 2021

Number of Unique
Students Tested
With Conclusive Results

Negative

Positive

Percent Positive

Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test Sites*

600

600

0

0%

0

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
With Conclusive Results

Negative

Positive

Percent Positive

Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test Sites*

331

330

1

0.30%

0

Total for 2021 (since January 4, 2021)

Number of Unique
Students Tested
With Conclusive Results

Negative

Positive

Percent Positive

Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test Sites*

686

671

15

2.19%

1

Number of Unique
Faculty/Staff Tested
With Conclusive Results

Negative

Positive

Percent Positive

Self-Reported
Positive Results
From Other Test Sites*

471

455

16

3.40%

2

*The State’s testing program does not report results to the College. The number in this column reflects reports by students, faculty or staff to SHAW and is not included in the positivity rate of the on-campus testing clinic.

For the week of March 15, 2021, 600 unique students were tested with 600 being negative and 0 positive resulting in a 0% positivity rate. A total of 331 faculty and staff were tested with 330 being negative and 1 being positive resulting in a 0.30% positivity rate. Testing occurred on Monday through Wednesday.

For 2021, 686 unique students have been tested; 671 were negative and 15 were positive, yielding a 2.19% positivity rate. A total of 471 unique faculty and staff were tested; 455 were negative and 16 were positive, resulting in a 3.40% positivity rate.

Update on False Positives

Last week the College saw what appeared to be an unusual uptick in positive cases in a single day. After follow-up with our testing partner, we were able to confirm that there was an error in processing a small number of our samples. This resulted in eight false positives, which upon retest have been confirmed as negative. False positives can occur in all tests of this type (PCR) and we watch closely for such issues. Our testing partner has identified and resolved the source of the error and is confident this was an isolated event. We want to reassure our campus community that although this created a brief disruption and some worry, our testing program and public health plans are robust.

This event also provided the opportunity to test and confirm that the response and care plans put in place by SHAW and the COVID Care Team are effective and efficient. Most importantly, we learned through the quick work of our SHAW contact tracers that had these been actual positive cases, over 50 people would have been placed in quarantine. Many more may have been identified had contact tracing continued. This highlights the importance of following CDC and college public health guidelines for the use of masks and physical distancing, which can greatly reduce the number of exposures.

Testing Clinic Notes and Changes

Testing Clinic Changes

The following changes to the College’s COVID testing clinic are now in place:

Starting the week of March 29, testing will be held on Monday and Thursday moving into Spring Term 2, outside of a few hours for special testing times that are being held for onboarding.

The entrance will be through the south door of the natatorium.

We have switched from the saliva tests to the anterior nasal swabs. This is the shallow nasal swab and is not the painful posterior nasal swab.

What Is Staying the Same

This is a RT-PCR test.

Results received within 24-48 hours post collection.

Results can be accessed through your portal. Anyone with a positive or inconclusive test result will be contacted by a member of SHAW to discuss next steps.

If you are symptomatic or have been exposed, you will continue to be tested in the outside location.

Grinnell has made tests available to students, staff, and faculty who are not already in the testing pool. To make an appointment, call SHAW at 641-269-3230 and watch for an e-mail confirming your testing time. If you have been identified as being exposed to COVID-19 or if you have symptoms of COVID-19, call SHAW at 641-269-3230 prior to your testing appointment to receive further directions for testing. The turnaround time for results is typically 24–48 hours for tests administered Monday through Thursday.

The Test Iowa Higher Education site is located at the Grinnell Public Health building and is available to Grinnell College faculty, staff, students, and members of their direct households for COVID-19 testing appointments.

To Schedule an Appointment

Complete the online higher-education TestIowa assessment.At the end of the assessment, select Grinnell College from the list of schools, select the Public Health/Unity Point clinic option, then click the red arrow button to receive your QR code. Call 641-236-2385 to schedule your appointment.

Note: Do not use the general TestIowa assessment, as Grinnell College will not appear in the list of sites.

Signing Up to Get Vaccinated in Iowa

You can find information about vaccine distribution from The Iowa Department of Health. Several online tools will help make provider information easily accessible to residents of Iowa, including the Iowa Department of Public Health Vaccine Information website, and Vaccinate Iowa. VaccineFinder can help locate vaccine sites anywhere in the United States. Please keep in mind, there continues to be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa and not all providers may have vaccines at the time you visit their website or call to schedule an appointment. Check back frequently as appointments may open up throughout the week. Vaccines will continue to arrive in the weeks and months ahead.

Taking Time Off From Work to Get Vaccinated or as a Result of Side Effects

Campus leaders support your choice to be vaccinated and empower supervisors to provide flexibility in scheduling to accommodate appointments. Employees may also utilize their COVID time-off allocation for vaccine appointments or for missed days due to side effects.

COVID-19 Variant Update

The Center for Disease Control has confirmed that three different variants of COVID-19 have been found in the United States. These strains include B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 which can spread more easily than the original strain of COVID-19. As of March 21, Iowa has 63 confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant. As of yet, there have not been any confirmed cases of B.1.351 and P.1. It is imperative that we all continue to follow the Grinnell College guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its variants:

  • wear a mask
  • wear a face shield or goggles during high risk activities, as outlined in the new guidance recently announced
  • maintain physical distancing
  • avoid meeting indoors
  • practice frequent hand washing
  • stay home if you are sick (If you are a staff member, we have put in place several safety nets should you need to miss work, including additional sick leave. Please contact HR if you are ill to explore options to keep you and your household safe.)

A Message From SHAW

The SHAW Testing Clinic team would like to ask all those using the Testing Clinic to please be conscious of the safety of the Testing Team. Before going to your appointment, please answer the following:

  • Do you have any flu like symptoms or are you feeling ill?
  • Have you been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19? If you have any questions regarding possible exposure, please call SHAW at 641-269-3230.

If you answer yes to either of these questions:

  • Please do not enter the testing clinic and increase exposure risk to all inside.
  • Call SHAW at 641-269-3230 to set up an outside appointment.

Concerned About Those Who Increase Risk Due to Non-Compliance?

Most members of our community do a terrific job of following public health guidelines, but occasionally, some may put the community at risk due to non-compliance. As a reminder, Grinnell College urges you to utilize EthicsPoint to anonymously report observed PPE or other public health policy non-compliance issues. This information will help us understand how to better support our campus community with ongoing education and outreach opportunities.

To Your Health,

Terry

Terry W. Mason, Ph.D.
Dean for Health and Wellness

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