Covid-19 Saliva Testing FAQ
What is the COVID-19 Saliva Testing Program?
The University of Minnesota is launching a systemwide COVID-19 saliva testing program. Through this program, students, faculty, and staff–dependent on employment status–will receive one mail order saliva test from Vault Health for personal use. This test can be taken, at their discretion, anytime before the end of the program on Dec. 30, 2020. To complete the testing process by that time, you must use your code by December 17, 2020.
The test is processed by Vault Health’s lab partner, Infinity Biologix.
The University launched the faculty and staff program in partnership with Governor Walz and the State of Minnesota, which did not include retired faculty or temporary/temp casual employees at this time. Costs for these individuals will be covered by the employee’s health insurance or by the state with CARES Act funding. The Board of Regents approved expanding the program to students on October 9, 2020. The cost of one saliva test is covered by health insurance or by the University.
Why are the State of Minnesota and University providing access to this saliva test?
The goal of the University and State of Minnesota is to keep public universities and colleges open while helping Minnesotans be safe. We also recognize that the University community is large, and the college experience involves living and working together. This program is meant to increase access to testing and provide another tool for individuals to access a test when they believe they need it.
How do I access the program?
Through the saliva testing program, students, faculty, and staff who were provided a code can use a unique code to access one saliva-based test through the Vault Health website. This voluntary test is designed to be used if you are concerned about a possible exposure to COVID-19. You may also use it if you do not meet the criteria for other testing sites (e.g., a majority of testing sites require individuals to be experiencing symptoms or to have been notified of close contact to a known case by a public health representative).
The test is conducted by collecting a saliva sample during a Zoom-enabled, HIPAA-compliant, supervised visit with a Vault Health professional. This visit is scheduled, operated, and hosted by Vault Health. The visit is necessary to ensure enough of a sample is produced from the appropriate individual. After a sample is collected, it is sent to a Vault laboratory for testing.
Note that the saliva test provided by Vault Health will examine if a person currently has the virus that causes COVID-19. It is not an antibody (or serology) test, which can indicate whether someone has previously had the virus.
As a reminder, anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have been notified by public health representatives of close contact should follow the University’s MTest protocols by visiting or contacting your campus-specific health provider or another trusted healthcare provider.
How accurate is this saliva test?
Who pays for my saliva test?
University of Minnesota students, faculty, and staff will not pay any out-of-pocket expenses for the single saliva test through this program. The cost may be covered by an individual’s health insurance plan, if deemed medically necessary. If not covered by health insurance, the State of Minnesota or the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration will cover the cost for faculty and staff, utilizing federal CARES Act funding. For students, if not covered by health insurance, the cost is paid for by the University. Insurance is not required to receive testing through this program.
Does the saliva test code expire?
Yes. This program ends on December 30, 2020. To complete the testing process by that time, you must use your code by December 17, 2020.
I am a current student, faculty, or staff member who is not currently attending classes or working on campus. Am I eligible for this program?
Yes. If you are enrolled or employed by the University as a student or a faculty member and staff member who are not retired, temp/temp casual and are working in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico, you are eligible to receive a Vault Health test.
I am a student, faculty, or staff member who is studying or working in a country other than the United States. Am I eligible to receive a saliva test?
No. Currently, Vault Health only has approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to administer this test to individuals located in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For more information on test accessibility, visit Vault Health's website.
I am exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and/or am part of a case investigation. Should I use this test, get tested at my campus health clinic, or get tested by my primary care clinic off-campus?
You may choose to use the COVID-19 Saliva Testing Program in this situation. However, MTest protocols are designed specifically for students, faculty, and staff who are symptomatic, part of a case investigation, or have had a confirmed exposure to a positive COVID-19 case. If you meet any of those criteria, we encourage you to follow the MTest protocols so that you may receive your test results and access to public health support systems promptly.
The addition of the COVID-19 Saliva Testing Program to the University’s layered testing strategy is designed to support access to testing for all those who feel they have been exposed to COVID-19, but who may not meet the qualification for testing at their preferred care provider. Use of this testing resource is optional and can be done at any time.
Who will receive a test code and how will they receive it?
Students, faculty, and staff will receive one code for a saliva test via email, with the unique code to order the testing kit included. To retrieve your code, please check your MyU Portal notifications tab on the upper right-hand corner.
Can I transfer my test code to another individual who qualifies through this program?
No, testing codes are non-transferable.
What information is required to request a saliva test?
- Your personalized test code.
- Your contact information, including a current mailing address, email, and phone number. Note that Vault Health does not currently ship test kits to P.O. Boxes.
- A photo ID, which, among other options, can include your University ID.
- If you have health insurance, provide health insurance information.
When should I use this test?
After an individual receives their emailed code, they can use it — at their discretion — any time to request one saliva test from Vault Health. Due to what researchers know about the incubation period of the virus, the Health Emergency Response Office (HERO) suggests taking the test five days after an individual believes they were exposed. Testing earlier than that could potentially return false negative results. Limiting close contact with others from the time of exposure to the time of a negative test result is an important public health strategy.
How do I request a saliva test and what should I do after I receive it?
Individuals may request a saliva test by visiting the Vault Health website and entering their unique code, contact information, and insurance information. Vault Health will then mail you a testing kit to the address you have provided. Follow the instructions within the testing kit to return the sample, and find a UPS drop-off location nearest you.
When should I order my saliva testing kit?
This test can be taken – at the discretion of students, staff and faculty – anytime before the end of the program on Dec. 30, 2020. To complete the testing process by that time, the unique codes must be used by Dec. 17, 2020. Students, staff and faculty can order kits based on a possible exposure to a positive COVID-19 individual between now and Dec. 17. Testing kits are shipped overnight via UPS.
Can I take the saliva test without the supervised, Zoom appointment?
No. All saliva tests must be conducted under supervision from a Vault healthcare provider. If collection takes place without supervision, Vault Health will invalidate the test.
How do I request an accommodation to the Zoom appointment requirement?
For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing; blind or visually impaired; or would like the appointment to be conducted in a language other than English, please reach out to Vault Health’s Patient Experience team via email at [email protected].
How does the test work and how do I ship it back to Vault Health?
How will I receive my test result?
When requesting a test from Vault Health, you will be asked whether you want to receive results via email or through their website. Vault Health will notify you by your chosen method when your test results are ready.
How long does it take to get my test result back?
Should I go to work while waiting for my test result?
If you are asymptomatic and not part of a public health investigation, please continue to follow the COVID-19 mitigation strategies outlined by the Minnesota Department of Health and in the University’s own policies.
This information for employees includes resources about what to do if an employee tests positive, as well as resources about taking an emergency leave of absence.
With whom is my test result shared?
COVID-19 is a reportable disease. This means that in addition to sharing your results with you, positive and negative results are reported by Vault Health to state health departments. For students, test results are also shared with health providers on your campus. Your name, contact information, and test result will be shared with the state health department that corresponds to where your test was shipped (e.g., an individual with a Wisconsin shipping address will have their results shared with the Wisconsin Department of Health).
From there, the state department of health will determine next steps regarding a case investigation and if and how data are shared.
Will the University share the results of my test or the overall testing program?
Test results that are reported to the University will be shared, in aggregate, on the University’s campus-specific, COVID-19 dashboards. Under HIPAA, no personally identifiable information about your test will be shared publicly.
Can I request another saliva test?
As part of this program, one saliva test is provided at no cost to University of Minnesota students, staff, and faculty. You may purchase additional tests directly from Vault Health.
The U of M program is part of a much larger effort to expand access to COVID-19 testing throughout Minnesota. New saliva testing sites are being opened across the state over the next several weeks. Continue to check the COVID-19 Community Saliva Testing site to find additional testing locations as they become available.
Where can I find more information about Vault Health and saliva testing?
Who should I contact at the University if I have questions or concerns, or need to receive my request code again?
I am a student living in on-campus housing, and I’m unsure what my address is. What should I do?
I am a student living on campus, and I’m unsure what my address is. What should I do?
If you are unsure what your campus mailing address is, please do the the following:
- Crookson: Please use the main UMN Crookston campus address of 2900 University Ave, Crookston, MN 56716.
- Duluth: Use the address templates from Housing and Residence Life.
- Morris: Use the main UMN Morris campus address of 600 East 4th Street #821, Morris, MN 56267. Do not use your P.O. Box number.
- Twin Cities: Login to the Housing & Residential Life resident portal to find your campus mailing address.
My test came back positive. What should I do?
If you are a student living in on-campus housing, health service and housing staff will assist you with a move to designated isolation housing and will support you during isolation. Positive cases in students are reported to the health providers on each campus who will reach out to you. You may also contact them directly to share your result and receive additional information and support.
Health officials state that most individuals will need to isolate until it has been 10 days since they began feeling sick, and they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications), and their symptoms have improved. Additionally, health officials recommend a 10-day isolation period for those known to be infected with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.
My test came back inconclusive. What should I do?
In rare instances (less than 2% of the time), a test result may come back inconclusive. In this instance, you should seek another test from your primary care provider or a trusted testing facility.
My test came back negative, but I am now experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. What should I do?
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, follow the University’s MTest protocols for each campus. Students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have been notified by public health representatives of close contact should follow the University’s MTest protocols by visiting or contacting your campus-specific health provider, or another trusted healthcare provider. Symptomatic employees should reach out to their primary care provider or local community testing site.
My test came back negative and I have no COVID-19 symptoms. Do I need to do anything else?
There are no immediate actions needed if your test came back negative. However, please continue to monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and take part in effective prevention strategies, such as physical distancing and mask wearing.