Earlier this month, the University instituted a process to randomly select and test individuals for COVID-19 in order to keep the spread of the virus as minimal as possible. In addition to monitoring the spread, the surveillance testing also allows the Health Center to “identify asymptomatic cases for isolation and make timely decisions regarding intervention and response,” University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A, Ph.D. explained in an email on Sept. 4. This surveillance testing began the week of Sept. 7, and as of Sept. 19, almost 1,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered by way of this system. 

Those selected for the random test receive an email notification which reads, “You have been selected to participate in Villanova’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program. This program is part of our ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community.” Testing takes place in the Finneran Pavilion lobby each weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and chosen individuals can schedule an appointment within that window. 

Participants are instructed to hydrate the night before and morning of the test, but must not eat, drink or smoke 30 minutes prior to test time. 

Junior Joe Zinno recounted the actual testing process as “simple, with prompted registration steps through a posted QR code.” Participants must answer a few questions and fill out basic personal information on their phone before entering the lobby. 

The next step is to receive a testing kit, and when a table becomes available, the individual can proceed to that spot to take the test. 

“All of the Vault Health representatives were helpful with the process,” Zinno said. 

The test requires a saliva sample. Zinno described the test itself to be “easy and self explanatory.”

Sophomores Claudia Campolo and Emily Martin had similar experiences. 

“It was really hard to get enough spit out to fill the tube up to the line, but it was definitely better than the nose swab,”  Campolo said.

“It took me a while to fill the vial up to the black line,” Martin said. “Once filled, I put the cap on and shook it so it could mix with another liquid. Lastly, I put it in a box and left. It was a really easy process and took 15 minutes max.” 

At the end of the test, a representative validates that the sample is complete. The participant is then directed to put his or her sample in a biohazard plastic bag and drop it in a collection box. 

Test results come to the participants by way of email within a day or two. Martin, who has been tested twice, said, “One of my results came back 48 hours later, and the other came back 18 hours later.”