Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

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COVID-19 Testing

Testing is an important tactic that the university is utilizing, along with numerous mitigation strategies, to combat the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

Asymptomatic Testing

Currently, the university is conducting ongoing COVID-19 asymptomatic testing -- an important component of the university’s strategy to detect COVID-19 in our community and prevent community spread. Each week we are identifying a random sample from all enrolled students in the Pittsburgh region to participate in testing. Read more about asymptomatic testing

At the beginning of the fall semester, we conducted asymptomatic testing of residential and off-campus undergraduate and graduate students living in the Pittsburgh area. At this time, all arrival COVID-19 testing is complete.

We are also studying the possibility of a surveillance strategy using an on-campus lab to administer and process saliva-based tests for all community members on a regular and ongoing basis.

Symptomatic Testing

After arrival and throughout the fall semester, if students present with any symptoms that suggest a COVID infection or are close contacts of known positive cases, our testing strategy calls for two types of tests to quickly assess students and provide rapid results. The benefit of this approach is to minimize the time students spend waiting for results and to accelerate our ability to initiate care and contact tracing when required.

UHS staff routinely process clinical tests in their on-site laboratory and are trained and certified by the federal government through CLIA (The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) to conduct in-house COVID-19 testing for students. UHS will administer an antigen test that returns rapid results within 15 minutes so we can take immediate action for confirmed positive cases.

  • If a student receives a positive result from an antigen test, a plan for care, isolation and contact tracing will be initiated.
  • If a student receives a negative result from an antigen test, a confirmatory PCR test (that will return results in approximately 2-4 days) will be performed to validate the results of the initial test. Students will be provided care and guidance until results of the second test are received.

Carnegie Mellon is committed to providing access to symptomatic and close contact testing with no barrier to care. For students enrolled in CMU’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), the cost of testing will be automatically covered. For any student who is not able to secure coverage through their insurance, the university will cover the cost of testing. We have thoughtfully planned for multiple contingencies to ensure we have adequate supply to execute our testing protocol. We are also adding staff at UHS who are trained in both testing and contact tracing to support our efforts.