NMU begins surveillance COVID-19 testing


Surveillance testing begins at Northern, where students will undergo a second round of maintenance testing. This helps NMU better understand how many students/staff may be infected, or even asymptomatic. Jesse Wiederhold/NW

Justin Van't Hof

As COVID-19 cases in neighboring counties continue to rise, NMU has recently begun their random surveillance testing in hopes to further contain the spread of the virus around campus. The university has used testing as one of the main ways of being able to keep campus open and classes in-person during the pandemic.

The testing officially began the week of Sept. 20 and, according to the Safe on Campus dashboard, of the 370 tests completed two came back positive. Students who are selected for the general population surveillance testing will receive an email inviting them to sign up for a timeslot to be tested.

The results will be sent via cell phone, text or email typically within 48 hours, according to an email sent out by NMU on Sept. 25. Individuals who have had a positive case should not participate as tests can return positive up to three months from their infection.

“We’re using the experience we gained from the mass testing format. The only thing that’s slightly different is the check-in process. Instead of students going through the entire check-in process, students will register for their time slot and go right up to the ballroom and get their temperature checked,” NMU medical director Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick said.

The tests used for students and the community are currently going through the biotechnology company Tempus. The company had previously struggled with providing results within a timely matter and caused delays to in-person learning. This is something Dr. Kirkpatrick believes will not be an issue with the lower test count the university is having them verify.

“The most important thing is the wonderful compliance of campus procedures. Mask wearing, social distancing and staying home when sick is the primary number one thing we can do to contain this virus,” Dr. Kirkpatrick said.