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Faculty and Staff: Updates on COVID-19 testing and new rapid testing

Dear faculty and staff, 

This message provides an update on COVID-19 testing resources for faculty and staff. While we experienced a slight increase in the number of undergraduate students testing positive over the last few weeks, the numbers for faculty and staff have remained very low — with fewer than 15 newly identified cases impacting faculty and staff this month. This is a continued testament to all that you are doing to follow our health and safety guidelines and keep our campus healthy. 

Please review the information below and continue to use the University’s testing resources when you visit campus. 

Ongoing Color Testing

Color testing continues to be available for those faculty and staff who want to test weekly while they are working on campus. Going forward, faculty and staff no longer need to make an appointment to obtain their Color test. If you haven’t yet completed a Color test, make sure to register for your Color account in advance using your Northwestern email address.  

In Evanston, you can continue to complete your Color test onsite at the Jacobs Center, but you will now enter through the East entrance to James L. Coon Auditorium. The pick-up/drop-off locations at Tech, Mudd, and 1800 Sherman reopen the week of March 8.  

In Chicago, Color testing is available at 345 E. Superior Street. 

Two-to-three days following your test, you will receive your results through your Color online portal. Faculty and staff can complete a Color test once per week, or less frequently as preferred. 

New Rapid Testing Program

We are excited to announce that Northwestern has entered into a new rapid testing partnership with Abbott using their BinaxNOW antigen test and NAVICA mobile app. This test provides one more tool to help quickly identify positive cases and isolate them from the University community. While no test can 100% guarantee you are not currently carrying the virus, a negative rapid test result provides an additional level of assurance when you might be engaging with other members of the Northwestern community. We encourage faculty and staff to complete as many rapid tests per week as they would like. Consider testing on a day when you are meeting with others, working in a lab or other shared space, or returning from travel. 

Faculty and staff can complete their rapid tests at the Jacobs Center in Evanston or 345 E. Superior Street in Chicago. The test is a simple nasal swab that takes less than 15 minutes onsite, and results are available within 30 minutes via the NAVICA app. If you are completing an Abbott Rapid Test for the first time, complete an online consent form in advance. You will only need to complete this form one time.

Starting next week, faculty and staff who have not already initiated rapid testing will receive an email titled “NAVICA Invitation from Northwestern University for (your name)” to your Northwestern email address. In order to participate in the rapid testing, you will need to follow these steps once you receive that email. No appointments are needed to complete your rapid test, and the process will go quickly as long as you have completed these steps in advance. 

Symptomatic Testing

As a reminder, you cannot use Abbott or Color tests if you have symptoms or if you have been identified as a direct contact through contact tracing. Faculty and staff who need symptomatic testing should update their SymptomTracker by turning it red, and the COVID Response Team will help coordinate symptomatic testing at the nearest Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care facility.  

Testing After Vaccination 

Faculty and staff will continue getting vaccinated in greater numbers as they become eligible under the State of Illinois’ vaccination plan. While the vaccines appear to do a fantastic job at preventing serious illness, we know less about how they will impact transmission of the virus. For this reason, faculty and staff should continue to get tested even after they are vaccinated, and should continue to use the SymptomTracker application each day they are on campus to report any symptoms or exposures. 

As always, please reach out to with any testing questions.