Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
February 11, 2021

Tartan Testing Updates for Week of Feb. 15

Dear Members of the Pittsburgh Campus Community,

Thank you for your cooperation during the ramp up of our Tartan COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Program. Tartan Testing is a critical part of CMU’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy because asymptomatic testing allows the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the cause of COVID-19) in people who do not know they are carrying it — people who are not feeling ill nor demonstrating any symptoms of COVID-19. These individuals can unknowingly spread the virus to others, and the Tartan Testing Program helps to identify these individuals and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Tartan Testing is only for individuals who do not have COVID-19 symptoms or have not been exposed to the virus. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, do not get tested through the Tartan Testing Program. Instead, please follow the instructions on our Health & Wellness web page.

We are seeing a significant reduction in the number of invalid test results, which we attribute to participants following the updated guidance for providing samples. As a reminder, the guidance includes:

  • During the 60 minutes prior to your appointment, do not eat, drink (other than water), smoke, brush your teeth or chew gum.
  • Ten minutes before your appointment, swish water in your mouth and swallow it. After that don’t drink more water until you have completed your test.

Thank you for your patience as we adjusted the invitation list for Tartan Testing this week. As a result, we have been able to provide all Pittsburgh-area students, as well as faculty and staff who will be delivering in-person instruction, the opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 at least once in the two weeks prior to our start of hybrid instruction.

For the upcoming week of February 15, we expect to invite all Pittsburgh-based students and all previously invited faculty and staff to participate in Tartan Testing. Those invited to participate will receive a separate email with detailed directions for participation.

Tartan Testing is an important element of our strategy to mitigate COVID-19 on campus. We appreciate your continued commitment to the prescribed COVID-19 mitigation behaviors: completing the daily self-assessment, maintaining physical distance from others, wearing a facial covering and washing your hands often.

As we continue to ramp up the Tartan Testing Program, we appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Visit our Tartan Testing webpage for the most up-to-date information, and if you have questions, please contact


J. Michael McQuade
Vice President for Research
Carnegie Mellon University