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Northwest Nazarene University begins saliva-based coronavirus screenings

Only five members of the NNU community have tested positive for coronavirus since classes began on August 31.

NAMPA, Idaho — Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) announced Saturday that a series of saliva-based COVID-19 screenings have begun. These tests will allow students, staff and other faculty on campus to be screened regularly.

Since classes began on August 31, only five NNU community members have tested positive for COVID-19. All five people are in self-isolation.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and chair of the 2020-21 COVID planning team Brad Kurtz-Shaw said the campus has been prepared to fight the impacts of the pandemic since the beginning.

"Currently, we are pleased with the ways the health and safety plans and protocols we have in place are working to help ensure impacted community members are getting the support they need while simultaneously mitigating the spread of the virus on campus," he said. "We will continue to work together to do all we can to put Community First as we navigate the challenges that COVID brings our way."

All on-campus community members have been divided into pools for asymptomatic screening. Those being tested will be able to collect and submit their own saliva sample.

Samples are combined into groups and screened as a group to preserve privacy. Should a positive test result in a certain group, NNU Health Services can follow-up with group members for additional screening to determine which individual is COVID-19 positive.

In a statement to the campus community, Dr. Bryon Hemphill, director of health services, said, 

"This new, more accessible, more affordable surveillance screening allows NNU to add another layer of protection," director of health services Dr. Bryon Hemphill said in a statement. "It helps us to proactively monitor and assess the on-going health of our campus community and provides for early identification of potential infection so that those impacted can be cared for quickly and possible spread can be mitigated early."

About 1,400 campus members have participated in initial screenings. Ongoing testing will continue to include more NNU students, teachers and faculty over the next several weeks.

Additional updates will be communicated through the NNU wesbite as they become available.

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