Yale launches pilot COVID-19 screening program
As Yale begins the careful process of repopulating some parts of campus, the university has launched a pilot COVID-19 screening program.
The free, voluntary program, part of a Yale workplace safety initiative, is being offered to faculty, staff, and trainees who are currently authorized to be on campus or are returning as part of phase one of research reactivation.
Medical, nursing and public health experts on Yale’s public health advisory committee, chaired by Dr. Stephanie Spangler, vice provost for health affairs and academic integrity, consulted on the development of the program.
Spangler said the program — which is only for individuals who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 — will help Yale learn about the extent of asymptomatic infections in the campus population, and will aid planning for possible larger-scale testing in the future as more campus activity resumes. Even more important, she said, screening for COVID-19 will allow Yale to take appropriate action to reduce the chance of broader campus transmission when a member of the campus community tests positive.
The program launched on May 19. So far, 5,895 faculty, staff, and trainees have been offered the opportunity to enroll, and over 1,000 tests have been completed. The screening program has found one positive asymptomatic case of COVID-19 to date. Being able to detect such “silent” occurrences of infection allows health professionals to help prevent further transmission by performing contact tracing and providing guidance about self-isolation and health precautions.
“While we are very encouraged by these results, it is important to recognize that this group of Yale employees may not be representative of the entire workforce or the community at large,” said Dr. Madeline Wilson, chief quality officer at Yale Health and chair of the COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Committee. “In fact, many of these individuals have been staying primarily at home until very recently. It remains critical that all recommended precautions are followed to minimize the risk of infection.”
Although testing plays a vital role in contributing to workplace safety, Spangler and Wilson advise that it alone cannot prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The decline of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates in the New Haven area and across Connecticut is due in large part to the effectiveness of social distancing.
“Social distancing measures are beneficial, and all of us must follow these and other public health precautions, both on and off campus, to reduce transmission of the virus,” said Spangler.
Two thousand more faculty, staff, and trainees will be invited to participate in the screening program as phase one of research reactivation, which began June 1, continues. For eligible employees, drive-through and walk-up screening is available in the Prospect Sachem Garage. An appointment is required.
To learn more about the program, determine eligibility for participation, and schedule testing, please visit the Pilot COVID-19 Screening Program website. If you have questions, please read the Frequently Asked Questions on that page before calling the Campus COVID Resource Line (203-432-6604, toll free 866-924-9253).
“I want to extend my gratitude and admiration to Dr. Madeline Wilson and the members of the Testing and Tracing Subcommittee who made this pilot possible,” said Spangler.