COVID-19 testing recommended for travel; resources available

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As the University of Michigan prepares for upcoming breaks in the academic calendar, COVID-19 testing is recommended and resources are being made available for students, faculty and staff who will be traveling domestically or internationally in the coming weeks.

Recommendations for COVID-19 testing before and after travel are focused on an individual’s vaccination status and their travel destination, said Robert Ernst, associate vice president for student life for health and wellness and director of COVID-19 Campus Health Response Committee.

“Whether you are traveling a short distance, across the country or internationally, you can be proactive to keep yourself and your community safe,” Ernst said.

The fall study break is Oct. 18-19, and Thanksgiving break runs Nov. 24-28. The fall term ends Dec. 20.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, travel is discouraged for all unvaccinated individuals. It is recommended that unvaccinated individuals who choose to travel get tested  one to three days before traveling and again three to five days after traveling.

The CDC also recommends that unvaccinated individuals self-quarantine for seven days with a negative test result, or 10 days without testing.

While there is no formal guidance for fully vaccinated individuals who travel domestically to be tested unless they are symptomatic, resources will be available for those who choose to do so. For those vaccinated and traveling internationally, the CDC recommends testing before and after travel.

Free testing through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program is available to all U-M community members on the Ann Arbor campus who will be traveling internationally or domestically. The program meets the CDC requirement of a PCR COVID-19 test for international travel.

To ensure test results arrive prior to travel, the university recommends planning ahead as test turnaround may take 24-48 hours. Also, operating hours may be reduced at some CSTP testing sites due to the breaks.

In addition, the university is partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide free, pop-up, rapid antigen testing on campus in anticipation of additional testing needs for holiday travel. Antigen testing will be available on campus for select dates during November and December. Antigen testing does not meet CDC requirements of PCR testing for international travel.

Testing is not recommended for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days as the virus may still be detected.

Regardless of vaccination status, individuals should get tested if they develop any symptoms. Symptomatic testing is available at the University Health Service for students — self-schedule available through the patient portal — or through Occupational Health Services for employees.

All travelers are recommended to follow public health prevention strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Avoid travel if ill.
  • Check for travel restrictions at the final destination. For those traveling internationally, all air passengers returning to the United States are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the U.S., as outlined by the CDC.
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