More than 1,500 faculty and staff and more than 2,600 students have signed up in Corvallis for TRACE OSU, the public health project to determine prevalence of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Oregon State University community.

In all, more than 4,400 members of the OSU community in Corvallis, Newport and Bend have enrolled in the voluntary testing program that began this week. OSU is encouraging all current students, faculty and staff residing in the Corvallis, Bend and Newport areas to register for possible testing by enrolling here.

“This project monitors SARS-CoV-2 infection rates in the OSU community, which can support adaptive responses that contribute to a safer and healthier environment for all of our students, faculty and staff,” said TRACE director Ben Dalziel, an assistant professor in the College of Science. “We greatly appreciate everyone doing their part to help out.”

The data collected will inform planning and responses by university leaders and county health officials. Weekly prevalence results will help OSU students and employees, and local community members, to continue or increase their personal and public health measures to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19.

Prevalence results will be posted on the TRACE-COVID-19 website beginning the week of Oct. 5. Results will be updated regularly so the university community can track what the TRACE team is learning about COVID-19 on its campuses and at HMSC.  

Each week during fall term a representative group of around 1,000 students, faculty and staff will be selected at random from the registration pool and invited to be tested at an on-campus station. People have to be enrolled to be invited for testing.  

Two testing locations will be available on the Corvallis campus: Reser Stadium and the Community Plaza between Johnson Hall and the Kelley Engineering Center. There will also be testing locations at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC apartment complex) and OSU-Cascades (Tykeson Hall, room 205).

Free reserved parking is available for those being tested at the Corvallis campus. Testing hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in Corvallis.

Testing in Newport and Bend will happen every other week, starting the week of Sept. 28. In Newport, testing will occur every other week from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. In Bend, it will occur every week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays.

Once participants have enrolled in the program, they are in each week’s pool for possible selection. If they are selected for testing, they will receive an email inviting them to come to the nearest testing station.  They will receive a QR code that is unique to them for one-time-use. They should bring this QR code to the testing station on their phone or printed out on paper, and also bring their OSU ID card. 

At the testing station, the QR code will be scanned and testing will occur. Under the guidance of TRACE OSU staff, participants will self-administer a nasal swab that will be analyzed with an FDA-approved test.

The test involves swabbing the lower part of the nose with the swab and inserting the swab into a test tube with a medium that deactivates any virus that might be present. The entire testing procedure should take 10 minutes or less, from check-in to departure.

The samples will be tested with theSARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test.

Participants will be sent their results by secure email within two days. Personal information is safeguarded and not shared with anyone other than appropriate public health officials.

“If anyone is wondering why they should enroll, it’s because enrolling is something everyone can do to help us monitor and respond to the pandemic in our community,” Dalziel said. “The better we know what is happening, the faster and more effectively we can respond and the safer we’ll be.”

Sampling will occur continuously during fall term and through the entire academic year if merited by public health conditions.