8/23 – Introducing Nasal Testing, and other COVID-19 Testing Updates

August 23, 2021

To:         All USC students; All Faculty; All University Staff

Fr:           USC Student Health

RE:         Introducing Nasal Testing, and other COVID-19 Testing Updates

As of this week, USC Student Health is re-introducing nasal swab as a method for collecting samples for COVID-19 testing. Nasal swab appointments are available through MySHR (Monday-Friday until 3:30 PM) at Jefferson Lot and Pardee Marks locations. Please refer to the Pop Testing Hours and Locations page for updated information.

About Swab Testing

The swab collection is in addition to the saliva collection method that is currently available. Here’s what you should know about swab collection:

What is collected on the nasal swab?

The test is a gentle nasal swab (anterior nares) that goes approximately ½ inch into the nasal cavity or until it stops. The swab is then rotated for 15 seconds in each nostril to collect mucus. The test is painless and is administered or observed easily by a trained sample collection supervisor. 

How should I prepare for the test?

No preparation is required for the test, but any ointments or creams should not be applied to the nasal cavities as they can affect the sample integrity.

Is the swab test an “at-home” test?

No. Swab tests require on-site collection.

What if I have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed?

Please use the saliva drop-off if you have been exposed or if you have symptoms. Swab testing should only be used for surveillance testing.

Testing Appointments in MySHR

Nasal Swab: Please make an appointment in MySHR for the day you are intending to have a nasal swab.  You should plan to arrive close to your scheduled time for a nasal swab, as this involves a multi-step collection procedure.

For Saliva sample drop-off:

  • Please make an appointment in MySHR for the day you are intending to drop off your sample. 
  • The appointment generates a QR code that can be scanned at the drop-off site, along and sample tube, allowing for faster drop-off processing. 
  • You may go to a drop-off site at any time of the same day (you are not limited to your appointment time.)
  • If you are unable to generate an appointment in MySHR, you may “walk up” to drop off your sample without an appointment. End of day drop-offs may have later resulting times, as they will be delivered for lab processing with morning couriers.

We appreciate your patience as we test our entire student community—your participating is keeping everyone safer from COVID-19.

Individuals with OSAS Accommodations

Individuals who have OSAS (Office of Student Accessibility Services) accommodations may proceed directly to the check-in desk for assistance. You do not have to wait in line.

Contact-Tracing and Notifications

As a reminder, results and notifications for positive cases of COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Your test results are viewable in MySHR.
  • If you test positive, you will be contacted by Student Health and a member of the medical team will conduct a confidential contact-tracing interview with you. Phone calls from USC Student Health (please answer phone calls from USC numbers, 213-740-EXT#). Sharing details of people and places you have been in close contact with (within 6 ft., for 15 minutes or longer within 24 hours) will help keep others safe and reduce risk of transmission. Your identity will be kept private in notifying others.
  • If you test positive, you will be required to isolate as directed by USC Student Health.

What Happens When There are Positive Cases on Campus?

You will receive a “Contact-Tracing Notification,” ONLY IF you are identified as having been in close contact with an individual positive for COVID-19. Please follow the instructions specified by Student Health. Testing is recommended; if you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to quarantine.

If you receive a “Low Risk Notification,” you are identified as having been in the same location (class, activity) as a positive case. This does not mean you have had a “COVID-19 exposure.” You may choose to test; day 3-5 after a date of potential exposure is recommended.

Thank you to our community — 27,000 tests were administered this past week, and there was less than 0.5% positivity among students — much lower than in the general population (3.52% is the current positivity rate for Los Angeles County). Your participation in our vaccine programreaching above 91% for fully vaccinated among students, faculty, and staff, has also made the opening of the fall semester safer for everyone.