Update on COVID-19 Testing
Updated April 9, 2020
Western New England Health Services has tested symptomatic patients for COVID-19 over the past 10 days. There have now been several positive tests in both employees and students. Those affected were provided guidance on reducing the spread of the virus through a variety of measures like self-quarantining for 14 days, or longer, if symptoms continue to persist.
It is not the policy of the University to update the campus on the number of tests conducted or the number of positive tests, nor to rely on positive tests for suggesting that the entire Western New England community follow the well-publicized guidelines for fighting the spread of COVID-19.
We realize some members of our community have expressed concerns about knowing who has tested positive so they can protect themselves from the affected patients. Our ability to test is limited, and testing ordered by Health Services is presently sent to Baystate Reference Laboratory where it can take up to 7 days for results to be returned. Every person should therefore be taking precautions against COVID-19 all the time, regardless of whether or not there continue to be positive test results among our community. This is a “universal precautions” approach, which includes isolation, physical distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching your face, and all the other guidelines provided by the CDC and the Department of Public Health.
In the coming weeks immediate ‘point of care’ testing will be available in some medical facilities and patients will receive results before they leave the provider’s office. Western New England Health Services is on the waiting list to receive these tests. In the meantime, remember that the vulnerable, elderly, and those with underlying illnesses can more easily become severely ill, which is why our current practices of social distancing, hand washing, and other guidelines should be rigorously followed at all times, even if we, ourselves, are not showing symptoms. Of course, the University itself has enforced social distancing by limiting the number of faculty, staff, and students present on the campus, taking other precautions to maintain social distancing for those present, and is thoroughly clean commonly used surfaces, such as door handles, multiple times each day.
If you have specific questions, concerns or want to be evaluated by a health care provider please call Health Services, 413-792-1211 and we will assist you.