How the Huskies
protect their pack

By Martina Povolo

One thing about the UW is clear: They do not take COVID-19 lightly.

That’s why when on-camping testing became a popular way to stop the spread of the virus at universities, UW Medicine was already on track.

The Seattle Flu Study is a research project for studying influenza that is in its third year of research, one of which has been fully dedicated to studying the novel coronavirus.

Every student at the UW who wants to use on-campus testing facilities needs to be enrolled in the program. The study, known as Husky Coronavirus Testing, aims to learn how the virus spreads, ways to stop it, and ways to prevent it.

Most notably, they provide complete transparency in their number of cases to keep the students, staff, and faculty informed about what is going on on their campus with their case tracking dashboard made with the help of the UW environmental health & safety department. Students who are enrolled in the study are messaged a daily check-in survey that asks specific questions: Have you had any new symptoms in the last 24 hours? Have you attended an indoor gathering? Have you been exposed to COVID-19?

Using the responses to these questions as well as random sampling, researchers make testing available for certain students. Those students are sent a calendarto choose a date and time to get tested and must go to their allocated time slot to receive a test. Testing is free and no insurance is required. There are two main testing centers on campus: the UW Club and the ground floor of Odegaard. Both locations use proper social distancing protocols and have their volunteers who help run the study in full PPE to minimize exposure.

The COVID-19 test is a self-administered nasal swab that students must twirl around in each nostril 5 times at what they feel is an appropriate height. Students then receive their results in the next one to three days.

The Seattle Flu Study is led by the Brotman Baty Institute. This research facility pools the resources of UW Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Research Center, and Seattle Children’s Hospital to accelerate innovating medical research. Brotman Baty Institute’s Helen Chu was named “Washingtonian of the Year” because of her and her team’s work in identifying the first case of COVID-19 in the United States.

To keep students informed, Husky Coronavirus Testing and Public Health — Seattle & King County hold Zoom meetings to let students know of any updates with COVID-19 and go over tips to help congregate living settings be better equipped for handling the virus. With the help of the Seattle Flu Study, students can feel safe using the limited on-campus facilities and residing near the UW.