As a way to help mitigate risks to campus, the University has developed protocols to trace contacts within our community, including UNT faculty, staff and students who have tested positive for or been diagnosed with COVID-19. These protocols are in adherence with CDC guidelines and developed in conjunction with local health authorities. Contract tracing for purposes of public health includes all personal contacts and travel. Our focus is on contacts within the UNT community, visits to campus, and risk within dining facilities, public areas of campus, and residence halls.
In the latest testing guidelines from the CDC Friday, people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 should still be tested if they have been in close contact with someone who is infected. UNT’s Student Health and Wellness Center offers testing to faculty, staff and students who have been identified by UNT’s Contact Tracing team as a close contact of a UNT positive COVID-19 case. Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 patient for at least 15 minutes. Email COVID@unt.edu for guidance regarding symptoms, testing and what to do following potential exposure.
CDC-Guided Plan for Contact Tracing Program
This is a joint effort between the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC), Administrative Services, Risk Management, and Student Affairs and is staffed by members of each department.
- Case investigators/contact tracers receive reports, interview cases and contacts, and notify appropriate internal groups if on-campus follow-up is needed.
- These employees have been trained on patient confidentiality (HIPAA) and proper communication of sensitive topics.
- The supervisor/clinical consultant working with staff is a physician or a medical professional and consults as needed on case investigations and advises on clinical issues, patterns, and outbreak protocols.
- Additional staff will be added when necessary as determined by caseload.
Case Investigation & Contact Tracing
Our goal is to mitigate on-campus risk to our community members through data collection, UNT-focused contact tracing, and self-isolation or self-monitoring directives.
This will be accomplished by:
- Following standardized, comprehensive documents used to question all those who are positive cases or close contacts of these cases to ensure that all contacts are identified and all connections explored.
- Creating flow charts illustrating contacts and actions taken.
- Developing a timeline regarding follow-up with cases and contacts to ensure proper protocols are followed.
- Engaging clinical consultation/input from physicians when necessary.
Since April, the SHWC has collected samples of possible infections and sent them to an off-campus laboratory. Equipment has been procured to conduct testing in-house that began July 6. This equipment will be antigen testing using the Sophia2 analyzer from Quidel. Depending on the scenario, additional confirmatory testing with viral PCR may be needed with any confirmatory being sent to an off-campus laboratory.
Response to Outbreak
The Health Crisis Team will continually monitor the number of positive cases on campus and within the campus community. Based upon the data and consultation with local county health officials, the Team will make recommendations for University response, when needed, that could include closure of services, building(s), or moving to only essential personnel on campus. Data to be considered includes number of cases; evidence of community spread within campus buildings; and statistically significant increases in baseline numbers (from initial testing). The Health Crisis Team and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated in the instance of an on-campus outbreak.
Communications and Community Engagement
- The COVID-19 Hotline is currently offline. To report a positive COVID test result, symptoms, or possible exposure, or ask a question related to COVID-19, please e-mail COVID@unt.edu.
- Program details are posted online to help educate the UNT community about the process on campus.
- Collaborations will continue with local health authorities.
- Resources will be closely monitored for updates or changes in recommendations (CDC, Texas Medical Association, etc.).
- Tracing software will track cases, information.
Safety and Security of Patient Confidentiality
- All Contact Tracing staff are trained on the ethical responsibilities surrounding private and confidential information which includes what type of private information they can ask, as well as what information they can share as part of an investigation.
- Any medical and or/identifying information is stored appropriately according to UNT data security protocols and HIPAA compliance.
- SHWC HIPAA Security Officer ensures software provides an appropriate level of confidentiality and act as a consultant as needed.
- Maintain existing partnerships with Denton County Public Health and other local entities.
- Work with UNT Housing to establish protocols for on-campus self-isolation and quarantine cases.