Protect Purdue team provides updated testing protocols

As communicated last week, the latest medical evidence continues to suggest that the Omicron variant generally causes milder symptoms and cases, with vaccinations and boosters appearing highly protective against serious illness. However, Omicron presents some new challenges, including the timing of testing to accurately detect the virus. Evidence shows that individuals are testing positive with Omicron approximately three days after their symptoms begin or after a high-risk exposure, while at times testing negative in the days before.

In addition, our Purdue campus population is now more heterogeneous in terms of immune status: 

  • Some individuals have recently been infected while others have not.
  • 89% of our campus community chose to get vaccinated in 2020/2021 and many are since boosted, while some are not yet.
  • 11% of individuals have chosen not to get vaccinated to this point.

The university remains committed to the safety of our students and employees as well as the continuity of our operations. 

As we have done over the course of the past two years, Purdue continues to monitor the science and local conditions, and adjust our actions appropriately. Following this practice, we are making certain modifications to testing and subsequent case management. Some of these changes may be temporary.

For now, all testing for COVID-19 will require an appointment. No walk-ins will be permitted. 

This change is necessary for several reasons. Scheduling allows the Protect Purdue Health Center (PPHC) to maximize capacity amid high demand, reduce lines and on-site wait times, and provide individuals with proper case management and direction based on their circumstances.

Also, Purdue is not immune to the health care workforce issues we see nationally. These individuals are in high demand and the stressors are great. We have been fortunate to anticipate increased demand for testing and have added capacity to offer more symptomatic testing at Purdue than before. 

One thing that has not changed with Omicron is the definition of a high-risk exposure, explained below. Purdue remains committed to being a safe campus by using contact tracing methods, including contact tracers and data analytics, to monitor our campus facilities, including our classrooms.

You can schedule an appointment by calling the Protect Purdue Health Center (PPHC) 24/7 at 765-496-4636 or toll-free at 1-833-571-1043. A scheduling link can be found here.

A new location has been established to provide testing for dependents.

Purdue will continue to offer testing for dependents with symptoms and dependents who experienced a high-risk exposure, explained below. Beginning Jan. 10, these appointments will now take place via a new drive-through testing service at Purdue West and not at the Co-Rec. This is another step to make testing more convenient for families, further maximize capacity amid high demand and reduce lines and on-site wait timesFamily members, including employees, who experience symptoms or a high risk exposure should contact PPHC and schedule to be tested with their dependent(s) at the same time if prescribed. A scheduling link can be found here.

Testing for University-approved travel and surveillance testing remains the same.

  • University travel: If testing is required for university-approved travel, please call PPHC to discuss and schedule. If you have recently traveled and would like to be tested, call PPHC to discuss and schedule.
  • Routine surveillance testing: Surveillance testing will continue as conducted during Fall 2021. Employees and students who receive a surveillance testing notification should following testing email instructions. 

Until at least Jan. 24, the following testing is suspended:

  • Asymptomatic testing without high-risk exposure or that does not meet criteria for testing below.
  • Any travel-related testing for personal or non-university approved travel.
    • If symptoms exist, refer to the symptomatic testing guidance below.

If I am experiencing symptoms, what should I do?

Mild symptoms

If you are experiencing mild cold-like symptoms (congestion, cough, sore throat, etc.), whether you are vaccinated or not, it is critical that you continue to follow the Protect Purdue Pledge: stay home and away from others, contact PPHC, and follow additional instructions.

  • While you could be infected, it is possible that you will not test positive for Omicron until three days after symptoms begin.
  • If you test negative before Day 3 of symptoms, you may be instructed by PPHC to retest within 48 hours if symptoms persist.
  • Do not go to class or work until cleared by PPHC.
  • If living in a University Residence Hall, please call PPHC and follow directions for quarantine or isolation based on individual circumstance.

More severe symptoms

If you are experiencing more pronounced cold or flu-like symptoms (such as a fever of 101 degrees or above, nausea/vomiting, difficulty breathing), stay home and away from others, contact PPHC to be scheduled for testing right away, and follow additional instructions

If I had a recent high-risk exposure, what should I do?

*A high-risk exposure, as defined by the CDC, is an interaction within six feet for 15 minutes or more with a COVID-positive individual, where both individuals were not wearing masks.

Individuals who are fully vaccinated and boosted:

  • Individuals who are vaccinated and boosted and have no symptoms do not need to quarantine, but must wear a mask for 10 days and must test 3-5 days after exposure. Those who test positive must call the Protect Purdue Health Center and follow all directions on isolation.
  • If symptoms develop, refer to the symptomatic testing guidance above.

Individuals who are unvaccinated or vaccinated but not yet boosted: 

  • If you experience a high-risk exposure but are not experiencing symptoms, stay home and away from others, contact PPHC, and follow additional instructions. You will likely be instructed to quarantine for five days and scheduled for a test on Day 6 after exposure. Testing sooner than five days after exposure may not provide an accurate indication of infection.
  • If symptoms develop, refer to the symptomatic testing guidance above.

All Boilermakers are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and subsequent booster when eligible. Purdue’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic is open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located on the northwest side of the Co-Rec. Individuals who need a vaccination or booster should schedule an appointment online.

Purdue University’s face mask protocol remains the same as communicated last week.

Face masks remain required in in all indoor spaces for everyone on the Purdue University campus, regardless of vaccination status.