General Testing Information
Asymptomatic vs. Symptomatic Testing
On-campus testing is available for students, faculty, and staff throughout the term. There are two types of testing which dictate where you will go to be tested. It is important that you understand the difference between these:
Asymptomatic Testing: If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms.: You may hear this referred to as “Assurance, Recurring or Surveillance” testing.
Symptomatic Testing: If you do have COVID-19 symptoms (“symptomatic”) or you were identified as a close contact from contact tracing. You may hear this referred to as “Diagnostic Testing”
Types of Tests and Collection
Regardless of whether your test is asymptomatic or symptomatic, Northwestern is utilizing tests that provide high levels of accuracy, with very low levels of false positive or false negative results.
Depending on when and where you take your test, it may be provided by different laboratories. Northwestern has established partnerships with Northwestern Medicine, Abbott, Color Genomics, Quidel, Tempus, and Fulgent Genetics to support its COVID-19 tests.
All asymptomatic testing is done by a self-collected, simple nasal swab (“anterior nasal”). Symptomatic and contact tracing testing is done with a NP swab (“nasal pharyngeal”) swab.
Testing if You Have Previously Tested Positive for COVID-19
If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you should not test again for the next 90 days, following guidance from the CDC. If you tested positive at Northwestern, you will be automatically removed from your testing protocol until your 90 day window ends. If you tested positive outside of Northwestern, you should Submit Your External Test Results so you can be removed from required testing for the appropriate period of time.
Consents and Privacy
Testing is a medical procedure, and Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine take your privacy seriously. When registering for your test, either onsite or online, you will be required to sign a Consent for Testing and Diagnosis and Informed Consent to Northwestern's COVID-19 Testing Program.
Testing Reporting Requirements
Please note that during the testing registration process, we are required by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC to ask a series of sensitive questions. This includes, but is not limited to, asking about one’s race, ethnicity and sex assigned at birth. Please be aware this is not a Northwestern requirement but a public health requirement. Health and Human Services (HHS) has elaborated that in order to assure a rapid and thorough public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, comprehensive testing data is required. These data contribute to better understanding the disease and its trends so that mitigation efforts can be enhanced. Access to clear and accurate data is essential to communities and leadership to make data-driven decisions. Thank you for your partnership and understanding in this matter.
What to Expect
While the experience might be slightly different depending on what location you test at, watching the video below will give you a good idea of what to expect during your asymptomatic testing visit.
For all on campus tests, you should bring your Wildcard and know your NetID – these will be important.