Student Health adds coronavirus testing, remote services

Student Health implemented coronavirus testing starting Monday. Students who have been referred after a TeleHealth appointment can submit specimens for testing at a station outside the Engemann Student Health Center. (Ling Luo | Daily Trojan)

USC Student Health can now evaluate and test students with coronavirus symptoms, according to Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman.

Beginning Monday, students may be tested at the station in front of the Engemann Student Health Center. To test for coronavirus, a specimen is collected at a station set up outside the center and sent to a laboratory for evaluation. 

People with cold or flu symptoms, including a cough, sore throat or runny nose, must first make a virtual appointment through TeleHealth, an online platform for medical services. During the appointment, a Student Health caregiver assesses symptoms and determines the best course of action, which may include testing.

“We’re really moving — at Student Health and the rest of the community — from really being worried about returning travelers to, over the last few days, a situation where we’re sort of assuming anyone who has cold or flu symptoms, we have to first assume they have it,” Van Orman said.

Since community transmission has increased, all individuals with coronavirus symptoms are asked to self-quarantine until their test results return — typically a two- to three-day period, Van Orman said. Individuals who test positive for coronavirus should self-isolate for 14 days, the incubation period of the virus.

“It’s very, very important that people [self-isolate],” Van Orman said. “Even if they’re not experiencing significant system symptoms … they may be putting other people in the community at risk.”

All visits for people with respiratory symptoms now take place on the first floor of the student health center, with the second floor reserved for other appointments to lower the risk of contagion. 

Students are encouraged to make consultation appointments on TeleHealth, but Student Health will remain open for urgent care visits. Counseling services offered by Student Health now have virtual alternatives, including “Let’s Talk … On Zoom!” and group and individual sessions with licensed Student Health professionals conducted via TeleHealth. Access to all medical and mental health services, excluding “Let’s Talk,” is restricted to students currently located in California due to licensing requirements.

As of now, two members of the USC community have tested positive for coronavirus, including a student who recently returned from a study abroad program in Europe and a health care professional at Keck Medical Center. Both are in self-isolation.