The omicron variant's rapid spread is driving a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus and in the community, increasing the need for easily accessible testing options. Beginning today, Jan. 20, ISU employees and students can pick up a free rapid antigen test at five campus locations, senior leaders announced in a Jan. 19 campus message.
Rapid antigen tests are self-administered kits that provide results within 15 minutes based on a nasal swab and are most effective at detecting COVID-19 when symptoms are present. While supplies last, symptomatic employees and students can find a rapid antigen test at:
- Maple Willow Larch hall desk (8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, weekends 1-5 p.m.)
- Memorial Union information desk (7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, except 11 a.m. opening Sunday)
- Thielen Student Health Center front desk (8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, except 9 a.m. opening Wednesday)
- Union Drive Community Center mailroom (8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, Saturday 1-5 p.m.)
- Vet Med room 2270 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays)
Employees and students also can find free surgical and N95 masks at those five locations. Following the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), senior leaders encourage wearing a well-fitting face mask when around others indoors, including classrooms, shared offices and other common spaces. Masks are required in some campus spaces, such as on CyRide.
Self-testing access expands
Increasing the availability of at-home rapid tests has been a national priority in recent weeks. In a federal initiative that launched Jan. 18, all U.S. households are eligible to request four at-home tests kits. Submit a request online. Kits are expected to ship in one to two weeks.
New federal rules also require health insurance plans to reimburse members for over-the-counter test kits they purchase on or after Jan. 15. University officials are working with ISU insurance providers on how the reimbursement process will work. Details will be released soon.
Instructions for various at-home tests vary, but for a general primer on self-testing, see the CDC's guidance.
Other testing options
Faculty and staff also have these options for COVID-19 testing, if needed:
- Hy-Vee continues to operate a drive-thru testing site in Lot F, west of Stephens Auditorium. It is open weekdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m., except Wednesday. Schedule a required appointment online. PCR lab tests are free, and rapid PCR tests are $119.
- Free Test Iowa kits can be picked up at any of the five campus locations that offer at-home tests and face masks. Test Iowa results are available by email within 24 hours of the lab receiving the self-collected saliva sample, which is submitted by mail.
- Symptomatic students can schedule an appointment online for a test at Thielen, which has the capacity for 200 PCR testing appointments daily and provides results by email within 48 hours.
Vaccine clinics set
Senior leaders encourage students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including boosters. Vaccines are safe, effective and the most important tool among the Cyclones Care public health measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Three on-campus vaccination clinics for students and employees are set for the next six weeks, with Hy-Vee partnering with the university to offer first, second and booster doses in State Gym on Jan. 26, Feb. 9 and March 2.
The Jan. 26 vaccination clinic will run 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Appointments are required and can be scheduled online. The deadline to schedule an appointment is 10 a.m. Jan. 25.
How to respond
For information on how to respond to a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure, review the Jan. 6 campus messages about spring semester public health measures. Guidelines for isolation and quarantine, along with other updates and relevant information, are available on the Moving Forward webpage.
Patient volume is high at local health systems, stressing their treatment and testing capacity. Senior leaders asked employees to ease some of the pressure by following guidance provided by McFarland Clinic, Mary Greeley Medical Center and UnityPoint Health to determine if medical care is required.