Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
January 29, 2021

Tartan Testing Progress Update

Dear Members of the Pittsburgh Campus Community,

As we get closer to the start of the Spring semester, Carnegie Mellon University continues to ramp up the operations of our Tartan COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Program. Thanks to the participation of many members of our community, the program is steadily growing and improving.

Asymptomatic testing remains an integral part of CMU’s ongoing strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Results from Tartan Testing will provide timely information about the prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 in our community, and this information will be used to inform the posture of services on our Pittsburgh campus.

Each week, we have invited more members of our community to receive an asymptomatic COVID-19 test. Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 samples have been tested. The program will continue to add faculty, staff and students to the weekly testing invitation, and we anticipate providing access to testing for all students located in Pittsburgh prior to when in-person instruction resumes scheduled on February 15.

As Tartan Testing operations continue to ramp up and our community gains familiarity with the program and process, I want to share a few reminders regarding Tartan Testing appointments:

  • Only those invited to participate in Tartan Testing may schedule appointments. Once invited, all faculty, staff and students planning to be on campus each week are expected to complete one asymptomatic COVID-19 test weekly through Tartan Testing. If you come to campus occasionally, you are expected to test during the week you will be on campus. If you are not coming to campus, you are not expected to participate in Tartan Testing; however, the opportunity to obtain an asymptomatic test is still available to you.

  • Book your appointment as soon as you can after receiving your invitation. The number of appointments each week is increasing, yet there are a finite number of appointments available. Appointments must be scheduled after each week’s invitation and cannot be scheduled on a recurring basis.

  • Individuals who have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 should not access testing through Tartan Testing. If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive within the past 14 days, stay home and notify Community Health and Well-Being at Symptomatic students should access care by calling University Health Services at 412-268-2157. Symptomatic faculty and staff should consult their health care provider.

Additionally, if your sample is contaminated or discolored, it will not produce a test result and will not be processed. To reduce the incidence of contaminated saliva and rejected test results, we are adjusting two points of guidance regarding how you should prepare to provide your saliva sample.

  • During the 60 minutes (increased from 30 minutes) prior to your appointment, you should not eat, drink (other than water), smoke, brush your teeth or chew gum.

  • 10 minutes before your appointment, you should swish water in your mouth and swallow it to ensure that you are well hydrated. After this, do not drink anything else before your appointment.

  • Additional guidance to prepare for your appointment is available on the Tartan Testing webpage.

CMU is also excited to announce the launch of new shuttle service to transport faculty, staff and students from locations off campus — 6555 Penn Avenue, Bakery Square, the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), 300 S. Craig Street (near the Mellon Institute), the Pittsburgh Technology Center (PTC) and Mill 19 at Hazelwood Green — to/from the Cohon University Center (CUC). Shuttle service will begin on Monday, February 1. For details on the routes and times, visit the Tartan Testing Shuttle web page.

It is important to remember that any clinical test only provides a snapshot of the moment at which the test is taken. Therefore, it is critical that we remain committed to our COVID mitigation behaviors. Please continue to complete the daily self-assessment, maintain physical distance from others, wear a facial covering and wash your hands.

As the Tartan Testing program continues to expand, additional information will be shared as it is available. For the most up-to-date information about Tartan Testing and CMU’s COVID-19 strategy, please see our COVID-19 website. I also want to express my continued gratitude to our team and entire community for helping to make the Tartan Testing program a successful element of CMU’s strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


J. Michael McQuade
Vice President for Research
Carnegie Mellon University