Updated COVID-19 guidance
Dear faculty, staff and students,
This week we have witnessed the historic delivery of the coronavirus vaccine to cities and states across the country, a turning point in the battle against the pandemic.
As anticipated, Chicago hospitals — including UI Health — are receiving the first shipments of the vaccine this week. The initial vaccines will be offered to clinical providers who treat COVID patients, based on priority guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). The focus will then turn to providing the vaccine to the remainder of those working at UI Health.
It may take a few months before widespread community distribution of the vaccine occurs. We must remain diligent and continue to wear face coverings, wash hands/sanitize often, practice social distancing and stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
As we prepare for the holiday break and the upcoming spring semester, we are writing to share updated COVID-19 safety guidance for the campus community.
Saliva testing is essential to minimize the spread of COVID-19 among our campus community.
Testing hours and locations will be modified this week through Jan. 9. Please check the online scheduling page for up-to-date information. Appointments may be scheduled up to three weeks in advance and walk-ins are welcome, based on availability.
Beginning in the spring semester, we will provide additional testing capacity on campus for individuals who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
We will continue the mandatory saliva-based testing program for specific groups of students and employees, including students and staff in campus housing, certain students and faculty/staff in performing arts, and student-athletes and athletics staff. We anticipate that mandatory testing will be expanded to additional groups and we will communicate details in January.
At this point, all students who are not in the mandatory testing groups, employees and students working in a clinical setting, and faculty/staff who are unable to socially distance due to constraints in their work environment are strongly encouraged to schedule voluntary saliva testing weekly. All other individuals who will be on campus should schedule voluntary saliva testing once every two weeks.
Saliva testing will also be available at our regional campuses in Rockford and Peoria and separate guidance will be provided to faculty, staff and students at those locations.
New process for obtaining saliva testing results
Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 5, the campus launched a new process for receiving on-campus saliva testing results. Results will be housed in MyChart, the Patient Portal used by UI Health, and new test results will no longer be available in the McKinley Health Center Patient Portal.
All current UIC faculty, staff and students received a MyChart activation message in their UIC email account the week of December 21st. Individuals who do not activate MyChart prior to their saliva testing appointment will be asked to sign up at the testing site. It is recommended that individuals use a NetID when setting up a login and password. If you already have a MyChart account through UI Health or another healthcare provider, you will be notified by email when your results are available.
If your MyChart activation email or code cannot be located, and your UI Health Medical Record Number is not known, please call the UI Health MyChart helpline 844-90-MYUIH (312-996-9844).
How to report COVID-19 exposures, symptoms and positive test results
UIC contact tracing has launched a single reporting tool for the campus community. All employees and students at UIC and UI Health should report:
- Having been exposed to a COVID-positive individual.
- Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
- Testing positive for COVID-19 anywhere but at UIC campus saliva testing, University Health Services or Student Health Services.
Using this tool, students and employees will be asked a few questions, and will then be directed to the appropriate resource. This new tool is intended to streamline and simplify COVID-related reporting.
All students, faculty and staff participating in on-campus activities (outside of the hospital and clinics) will be required to use UIC Healthcheck to record health status before coming to campus each day. The UIC Daily Pass badge will be enhanced to show current saliva testing status in addition to daily self-reported status. The color-coded saliva testing status, indicated by the badge, should be used as a tool to encourage staff, faculty and students to obtain regular testing:
- Saliva tested negative in last 7 days = green
- Saliva tested negative 7-14 days = yellow
- Saliva tested 15 days or more = red
The Healthcheck reports currently available to colleges and supervisors will be enhanced to include details about the saliva testing status of employees and students.
Updated options to reduce quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently provided updated guidance to reduce the length of quarantine for individuals who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. This guidance is not for individuals infected with COVID.
UIC faculty, staff and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 — and who do not work in the hospital or clinics – can return safely from quarantine prior to 14 days with the following measures:
- No symptoms of COVID-19 have developed.
- Quarantine for 10 days from last exposure and have a negative test done on day 7 or later after exposure.
- Continue to monitor for symptoms for 14 days from last exposure (without testing).
- Resume regular saliva testing after return.
UI Health has adopted additional updated quarantine guidance based on specific needs in the health care setting.
Thank you for continuing to adhere to prevention measures to keep our campus, our community and those around you safe.
Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services
Vice Chancellor for Innovation
Susan Bleasdale, MD
Acting Chief Quality Officer and
Medical Director Infection Prevention & Antimicrobial Stewardship