Posted June 30, 2020

Temple to open dedicated COVID-19 testing center on campus

The center will be located in a storefront along Cecil B. Moore Avenue, on the street level of Morgan Hall.

Photography By: 
Betsy Manning

As part of the university’s expanded COVID-19 testing and contact tracing initiative aimed at keeping students, faculty and staff healthy as they return to campus in the fall, Temple University will open a dedicated coronavirus testing center on campus.

Mark Denys, senior director of Student and Employee Health Services, said the location of the center, in a storefront along Cecil B. Moore Avenue on the street level of Morgan Hall, provides the kind of atmosphere—including a private entrance—needed for a safe testing site.

“We want to do our best to keep anybody with the potential of COVID-19 in a location that can be very well controlled and maintained,” Denys said. “We want to keep everyone—whether they're a student, faculty or staff—safe.”

The new testing center will eventually have its own capabilities to run tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, on location, Denys said. The site will be able to run up to 400 tests per week to start, with rapid results available in as little as 15 minutes.

“We’re going to be able to identify positive students, faculty and staff almost immediately, and then we’ll be able to start the contact-tracing process,” Denys said. “We’re really going to be able to isolate people very quickly and quarantine those who are close contacts of any positive case in a very rapid manner.”

In addition to the dedicated coronavirus testing site, an in-house contact-tracing team will be established to work hand-in-hand with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to identify close contacts of cases and ensure they are tested for the virus and follow proper quarantine protocols. Plans for isolation and quarantine spaces on campus are currently in development.

With overflow capabilities at Temple University Hospital, which is currently running most of the SARS-CoV-2 tests that Student and Employee Health Services is conducting, Denys estimated that up to 1,400 tests of students, faculty and staff will be done weekly to start. If data shows that there’s a need for more tests, he said, Health Services is prepared to step up testing.

“We’re planning for the worst and hoping for the best, so we’re going to be prepared to flex it up if we need to,” Denys said.

The rapid testing will be prioritized for students, faculty and staff who are symptomatic with COVID-19 and their close contacts. Student and Employee Health Services will also be conducting regular screening and testing of high-risk populations in the Temple community, including those who work in clinical settings, those who work with the public regularly, and student-athletes. Regular testing of these populations will help to identify “hot spots” and will enable Health Services to act quickly to limit the spread of the disease.

The testing site in Morgan Hall is expected to be open by the start of the fall semester in late August.

—Morgan Zalot