By: Emma Walsh, Staff Writer
In last week’s Healthy Huskies update, USM announced a plan for the Phase Three asymptomatic testing regime. It will consist of testing a sampling of students, faculty, and staff at random.
While Phases One and Two of the testing were focused on identifying asymptomatic cases to prevent spread of the coronavirus, Phase Three is focused on surveillance and monitoring. The update states, “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the goals of surveillance testing are to provide a more complete estimate of how common COVID-19 is, to help us understand the incidence of infection — or likely prevalence rate — on our campuses.”
Depending on the results of the Phase Three testing, it will allow USM to intensify their health control measures as needed. This includes practices such as symptom tracking, social distancing protocols, or additional testing.
A secondary methodology of monitoring mentioned in the update is wastewater testing, which is being conducted on the Gorham campus. This type of testing provides an early warning signal if there is an increase of coronavirus cases on campus.
Students should be informed that approximately 10 percent of on-campus students, staff, and faculty will participate in rounds of random testing that will occur about every 10 days through the Thanksgiving holiday. Due to the fact that the testing will continue every 10 days throughout the semester, individuals may be invited to participate more than once in the testing process.
In addition to the Phase Three testing, there will also be a round of amplified testing on September 21, in which all residential students will be tested. Lisa Belanger, Director of Health Services, explaining the importance of participation in this testing, saying, “We are conducting another round of COVID-19 screening on Monday, September 21 because asymptomatic testing is a proven way to help keep our campus community healthy and safe. If you receive a notice to be tested, your participation is one of the most important ways to curb the spread of the virus.”
Belanger also added, “Through these rounds of testing, we can keep ourselves, our friends and family members, our classmates, and the entire USM community healthy and free of COVID-19. It’s easy, quick, and painless.”
In conclusion, President Glenn Cummings reminded the community in the update that each individual’s participation is essential to obtaining an awareness of the prevalence of the virus and keeping the campus safe. If you have questions, you are encouraged to email [email protected].