Testing and Tracing
As we continue to fight against the spread of COVID-19, testing is of critical importance. Not only does early diagnosis provide knowledge that can lead to better outcomes for you personally, it can also bring awareness that better enables you to mitigate the spread to others. A positive test is the only way to know for sure if you currently have or have had COVID-19.
Viral / PCR Test
A viral or PCR test will determine if there is active virus present. A health care worker collects fluid from a nasal or throat swab or from saliva. Results may be available in minutes if analyzed onsite or one to two days if sent to an outside lab. It is only a snapshot at the time the sample is taken.
An antibody test might tell you if you had a past infection. Since it can take 1-3 weeks after infection for the body to produce antibodies, it may not show if you have a current infection. It can be a swab test or blood test.
When should I get a test?
Based on the current testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, and Public Health people fitting into the following categories should pursue testing:
- If you develop one or more of the COVID-19 symptoms:
- fever above 100 degrees
- trouble breathing
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- loss of taste or smell
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- If you have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Close contact means that you have been:
- Within six feet of someone who does not show symptoms for 15 minutes.
- Within six feet of someone who shows symptoms for 5 minutes.
- If directed to do so by the Barren River District Health Department through contact tracing.
- If directed by a physician based on medical history and/or other factors.
How can I get a test?
If you meet one of the criteria noted above, PCR (live virus) tests are available during office hours Monday-Friday at WKU Health Services. (GGC@WKU) Call (270) 745-2273 to schedule an appointment.
PCR tests are also available at Graves Gilbert Clinic’s walk-in clinic locations from 7am - 7pm, seven days a week. Call (270) 781-5111 to schedule an appointment.
If you have symptoms after hours or have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, Medical Center EMS can respond, evaluate your symptoms and, if needed, test.
When will I receive my test result?
Currently, results for tests conducted through Graves Gilbert Clinic (for either PCR or antibody tests) are back within two and four days.
It is important to self-isolate until you receive the results of the test.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
What happens if I test positive?
You will need to be quarantined for 10-14 days or until released by a physician.
- For students that commute or reside off-campus, you should quarantine in your residence.
- For on-campus residents, students may choose to return home for the quarantine period. WKU also has designated spaces for quarantine, if you cannot return home.
Notify the WKU Office of Housing and Residence Life or call WKU’s COVID Hotline at 270-745-2019 so that we can arrange for your needs during the quarantine period.
You will also be interviewed by contact tracers from the Barren River District Health Department to determine if those with whom you’ve had contact are at risk.
For more information about quarantine protocols, visit https://www.wku.edu/covid19/messages/index.php?view=article&articleid=8953
What happens if someone close to me tests positive?
Once someone receives a positive test, they will be interviewed by contact tracers from the Barren River District Health Department to determine if those with whom you’ve had contact are at risk.
At risk means you’ve been (within) six feet from someone who does not show symptoms for 15 minutes or for 5 minutes if they have symptoms.
If you are in class with someone who tests positive, and social distancing and face coverings were maintained, you will not be considered at risk.
It is important that you respond when contacted by the health department.
How does contact tracing work? Who will contact me?
Contact tracing involves working with a patient (symptomatic and asymptomatic) who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify and provide support to people (contacts) who may have been infected through exposure to the patient. This process prevents further transmission of disease by separating people who have (or may have) an infectious disease from people who do not. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/contact-tracing/contact-tracing-plan/overview.html)
The Barren River District Health Department in concert with the Kentucky Department of Public Health is responsible for conducting contact tracing of potential and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area. In the case of our Elizabethtown and Owensboro campuses, the Kentucky Department of Public Health, along with the health departments in Hardin and Daviess Counties, will conduct the contact tracing.
All positive test results are automatically communicated to the state contact tracing group. This includes tests for individuals in other states who may identify people residing in Kentucky as potential contacts. WKU will cooperate fully with our public health partners to assist with contact tracing while protecting the privacy of our faculty, staff, and students in accordance with applicable government regulations.
We ask that all members of the WKU community answer the call if a public health representative reaches out to you. The representative will provide verification of their identity and direct you on appropriate actions to take, which may include self-quarantine, testing, etc.