COVID-19 Testing

vials for COVID-19 screening

To identify COVID-19 cases, UC Davis is establishing a rapid, comprehensive screening and testing program on campus

We are taking a unique, multi-disciplinary approach to screening and testing members of the UC Davis community for the coronavirus. Screening symptom-free students and employees will help better identify COVID-19 and track cases on campus.

This COVID-19 testing uses saliva samples, is cost-free to UC Davis students and employees, and provides rapid results in 24-48 hours.

COVID-19 testing is now available to all UC Davis students and employees and will be required on a weekly basis to access any Davis campus facility.

Delays in test results: With the mass expansion of testing on Nov. 18, we are experiencing some delays in notifying testing participants of results. This delay does not indicate a positive or negative result. If you have not received your test result after 72 hours, please log back into the Health-e-Messaging Portal and check “Lab Results.” We apologize for any delays, and hope to get back to prompt results and notifications in 24-48 hours very soon.


How to make an appointment   

UC Davis students and employees must log in to the Health-e-Messaging Portal to make an appointment for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. You will need to provide contact information and sign a consent form — see appointment instructions for more details.     

The appointment provides you with a QR code that you’ll need to begin the screening process. The contact information you provide when making your appointment will be used to deliver your results. Please make sure to answer your phone if Student Health and Counseling Services calls you.


Who is currently eligible for campus COVID-19 testing

Asymptomatic only: This testing is only for students and employees who do not have symptoms. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact Student Health and Counseling Services (or your doctor or Occupational Health if you are a campus employee).

Eligible groups: All registered UC Davis students and all UC Davis employees (if they receive paychecks through UCPath) are now eligible for weekly COVID-19 testing through the campus testing kiosk.


  • If you currently visit campus at least once per week, you will be required to get tested every seven days. 
  • If you visit campus less frequently, then please plan ahead and secure a testing appointment in advance, up to seven days before your visit. The testing appointment can happen on the same day as your visit, but testing availability varies each week and same-day appointments are not guaranteed. 
  • If you live in on-campus housing that is managed by the university, you must participate in testing every seven days regardless of accessing other campus facilities. 
  • If you are a student who was previously required to test as a member of one of these mandatory groups, you are still required to get tested every seven days, regardless of accessing campus facilities.

To monitor compliance with this requirement, a question about testing will be added to the Daily Symptom Survey on Dec. 1.

In addition to the Daily Symptom Survey, campus has established a specific compliance process for students who are in a mandated testing group. More information can be found at the testing and compliance webinar for students

Find more information about requirements, compliance and consequences, see the UC Davis Interim Public Health Policy and the scope of the university’s COVID-19 testing program.

For Davis community members and others not eligible for campus testing: Please check the Healthy Davis Together website for updates on additional testing kiosks that will coordinate COVID-19 testing for those who live or work in Davis.


How the COVID-19 testing process works

To find out whether they have COVID-19, testing participants provide a saliva sample at a COVID-19 testing kiosk on campus. 

Beforehand: Please stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids 1 hour before your appointment. Then in the 30 minutes before your test, do not eat, drink, chew gum or smoke. Everyone waiting in line at the kiosk will need to do their part to follow campus safety rules, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing.

At the kiosk: You will be asked to sanitize your hands and provide your appointment QR code at a registration table. You will receive a straw, a pipette bulb with purified water, and a vial with a barcode. Then you’ll follow this seven-step process, as seen in this video:

  1. Once asked, remove the cap from the vial and place it in the provided tray. Don’t lose the cap. 
  2. Tip the water from the pipette bulb into your mouth and gently swirl it around (do not gargle).
  3. Place the straw in the vial, but be careful not to push the straw so far that it creates a seal. 
  4. Place your lips on the straw and push saliva through the straw into the vial. 
  5. After filling the vial a little more than halfway, remove the straw and place it in the tray. 
  6. Securely place the cap back on the vial and place the vial into the container. 
  7. The attendant will take your sample. Sanitize your hands and exit.


What happens when someone tests positive for COVID-19

When a test comes back positive, you will be contacted by the campus contact tracing team with information about isolation, care and any further testing if needed. The confidentiality of individuals with positive results will be protected, and their name and COVID-19 status will not be shared with close contacts.

As campus screening increases the number of students and other campus affiliates who are tested, expectations are that more existing and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 will become visible. In preparation for this eventuality, the campus has set aside quarantine and isolation facilities. UC Davis also has worked with local housing complex owners to assist them in establishing quarantine and isolation spaces within their properties.

Testing rollout: From student move-in, to Davis community

Students living on campus with Student Housing and Dining Services were first required to get tested for COVID-19 before moving into their residences in September. Student residents can expect to continue to be tested on at least a weekly basis.

During the initial pilot phase, the saliva screening process was backed up with a more traditional, certified testing process using nasal swabs. As part of the pilot phase, UC Davis students residing at The Green and in Sorority and Fraternity residences were also eligible to begin testing, as were student firefighters and EMTs living on campus. First responder and frontline health employees on the UC Davis campus were also invited to participate in testing during the pilot phase. After the saliva test was validated, additional groups of students and employees were invited to begin participating in the testing program (see the scope of the COVID-19 testing and screening program for more details).

Weekly testing is now available for all UC Davis students and employees. The UC Davis COVID-19 Dashboard provides weekly updates on the number of tests and positive results. Work is ongoing to open additional saliva-based testing kiosks as part of the Healthy Davis Together initiative to serve the needs of Davis residents and workers.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the FAQs about COVID-19 testing that we have received from employees and students. We will add more questions and answers over time.

  • Who is able to take the test? What about contractors, visiting scholars, emeritus faculty members, temporary affiliates, vendors, visitors or others who come to campus?
  • All registered UC Davis students and all UC Davis employees are eligible for testing at the ARC kiosk. The requirement for employees specifically applies to employees who have UCPath identification numbers. This means emeritus faculty members are eligible because they have UCPath ID numbers — but not temporary affiliates, who usually do not.

    For others who are not eligible for campus testing — such as visitors, vendors and contractors—we encourage that they make use of additional testing kiosks through Healthy Davis Together that will serve those who live or work in Davis. Here is another resource to find testing nearby. 
  • Are UC Davis Health employees eligible to get tested? Do they need to get tested to access university facilities?
  • Employees and students at UC Davis Health are eligible to get tested at the Davis campus testing kiosk. If they are accessing facilities on the Davis campus or in Yolo County, then they are also required to get tested to access those facilities. UC Davis Health facilities in Sacramento county and other locations are not otherwise part of this testing program. 
  • What if I can’t log into the Health e-Messaging Portal?
  • Only currently registered students and UC Davis employees who have UCPath identification numbers should be able to log into the Health e-Messaging Portal. If you are able to login, but cannot schedule an appointment, then please contact so Student Health staff members can troubleshoot your account. Student Health staff members are working to fix any login issues, and they appreciate your help in prioritizing which accounts need to be updated.
  • How often do I need to get tested?
  • Employees and students who visit campus at least once a week are required to get tested every seven days.

    If you visit campus less frequently, then please plan ahead to secure a testing appointment up to seven days before your visit or on the day of your visit. You do not need the result before your visit, but you must complete a testing appointment in order to access university facilities.

    Please note that testing availability will vary each week and same-day testing appointments are not guaranteed.
  • I don’t go to campus often. Can I get tested on the same day I visit campus? Do I need my test results before I can come to campus?
  • You do not need the test result before your visit, but you must complete a testing appointment if you will be accessing a university facility. The testing appointment must be either on the same day of your visit or up to seven days in advance of your visit. Please note that testing availability will vary each week and same-day testing appointments are not guaranteed, so we encourage you to plan ahead as much as possible.
  • As an employee, do I need to come in before the start of my shift to get tested?
  • Employees can get tested during work hours, as you will be afforded paid release time for testing. To accommodate a range of work schedules, the testing kiosk has extended hours on Wednesdays, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.. Testing any time during a shift, including near the end of a shift, are also acceptable options. Please consult with your supervisor for scheduling.
  • What locations are included in the testing requirement?
  • University facilities on the Davis campus or in Yolo county are included in this requirement, per the COVID-19 Screening and Testing Scope.
  • Do students or employees need insurance to take this test?
  • This test is free for all eligible students and employees. No insurance needed.
  • What about testing over winter break and during the UC Davis campus curtailment?
  • The campus testing kiosk will be closed during winter break except for Saturday, Dec. 26. As campus facilities are effectively closed during the UC Davis campus curtailment period (Dec. 21 – Jan. 2), the requirement for COVID-19 testing to access facilities will be paused. Beginning Jan. 2, employees will have seven days to begin testing again in order to access facilities. Students will need to get tested within seven days of their return to Davis for the start of winter quarter and will be able to access the testing kiosk starting on Jan. 2.
  • I don’t have a parking pass. Can I park for free while I get tested?
  • There is free 30-minute parking in Lot 25 by the ARC for all testing participants.
  • What happens if an employee tests positive?
  • If an employee tests positive, they will be called by Occupational Health (students with positive results will be called by Student Health and Counseling Services) and provided with information about next steps. This will include notifying the employee of their positive results, instructing them on public health-mandated isolation, and encouraging medical care with their medical provider.

    Positive results will be delivered securely to trained case investigators at Student Health and Counseling Services (under physician supervision) who will also inquire about their recent activities and close contacts on campus as part of the contact tracing process. The confidentiality of individuals with positive results will be protected consistent with the law and public health orders.

    With respect to paid leaves entitled to employees who test positive or are under a quarantine or isolation order, please refer to the COVID-19 related Leaves and Job Protection Guidance for Policy-Covered and Represented Staff Employees (PDF) which continues to be updated.

    Occupational Health will also determine when an employee is able to return to work after testing positive for COVID-19. 
  • I’m concerned about privacy. Who will have access to our results?
  • Saliva samples delivered to the Genome Center do not have any identifiable information associated with them. The Genome Center receives a sample in a bar-coded tube and reports a result for that barcode to the Student Health and Counseling Services database.

    From the database, employees from Student Health and Occupational Health — all of whom are trained to maintain HIPAA compliance — connect the result to the individual tested.

    If you test positive, you will receive a call from a campus medical provider with information about your results and next steps. You will also be contacted by the campus contact tracing team. The confidentiality of individuals with positive results will be protected, and their name and COVID-19 status will not be shared with close contacts.

    Positive test results are also reported to the Yolo County Public Health Department, in accordance with CDC guidance, state and county requirements and as mandated by law.
  • What will happen to my saliva sample? Are the samples being used for research?
  • All saliva samples are stored in a cold room for at least a few days in case a sample needs to be rerun.

    All positive samples are then stored frozen in a freezer, for use in quality control and protocol improvement. A few negative samples will be kept as controls.

    Currently the saliva samples are not being used for research. If in the future the Genomics Lab team is interested in pursuing research using saliva samples from this testing process, then they will guided by the Institutional Review Board process, and a consent form for optional research will be made available for testing participants to decide if they want to consent to participating in the research or not.
  • I’m concerned about getting tested indoors. Isn’t ventilation important?
  • In anticipation of winter weather, the testing kiosk has moved indoors to the four-court gym, also called Room 125, at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC). Because this move would mean inviting groups of people indoors, a multidisciplinary team evaluated multiple indoor locations on campus to find a space that was large enough and had adequate ventilation controls to mitigate potential viral risks related to airflow. This room in the ARC is one of the most voluminous on campus, has the ability to be fully ventilated with 100 percent outside air, and has a MERV 13 filter, which has a very high efficiency of removing coronavirus particulates from the air if temperatures outside drop too much for outside air ventilation. The team also performed smoke tests to check the circulation within the space, and made necessary upgrades to the HVAC system before confirming this indoor location for the testing kiosk.
  • I’m concerned about getting exposed to the virus during the testing process. How is this process designed to keep me safe?
  • Having an appointment helps keep the testing process moving quickly. The whole process usually takes 15 minutes or less.

    Students with symptoms can get COVID-19 testing at Student Health after a telehealth appointment with a Student Health provider. Testing participants at the ARC kiosk must pass the Daily Symptom Survey, so they do not have symptoms and have not recently been a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Everyone must show that they’ve passed the Daily Symptom Survey before they can get tested. 

    While waiting, you are required to maintain physical distancing and wear a face covering. Inside the ARC testing kiosk area, we are requiring that participants maintain extra physical distancing of 10 feet while they are indoors. You must sanitize your hands before and after the sample process.

    The testing kiosk workers also wear gloves and sanitize their hands often when handling any of the testing materials, including the pipette bulb and straw. All the equipment used to cut and fill the bulbs/straws are new or sanitized each day, and the water is from sealed water bottles used only for that purpose. Workers all wear gloves in the spit station area and sanitize their station and hands after every client.
  • Can I get tested elsewhere?
  • Employees and students can get COVID-19 testing from other medical providers to meet the requirement of weekly testing to access campus facilities. If you were to pursue this option, then you would need to respond to the questions added to the Daily Symptom Survey about COVID-19 testing based on the date you were last tested. In the future, we expect to move testing compliance into the Student Health appointment system. At that time, we anticipate there would likely be a way to upload results from any third-party testing, so you would want to keep records of your tests for if/when monitoring and compliance changes in order to meet campus requirements.
  • How do I seek a medical accommodation for this testing requirement?
  • Employees seeking a medical accommodation to assist with testing should first contact their supervisor, who can begin a conversation with Disability Management Services so that the parties can engage in the interactive process..
  • Can I use this test to meet travel requirements?
  • UC Davis is currently discouraging non-essential travel, in accordance with CDC, state and Yolo County guidelines. Campus testing is a qPCR test used to detect whether someone is actively infected with the coronavirus, even though they do not have symptoms. Samples are processed in a CLIA certified lab on campus, and results are available via the Student Health e-Messaging portal. Travelers are responsible for determining whether this test meets their needs regarding flight or entry requirements. You may also consider using this tool to find more testing options nearby.
  • How will employee compliance with this testing requirement be monitored and managed?
  • On Dec. 1, a COVID-19 testing question will be added to the Daily Symptom Survey that will deny entry to campus facilities to employees who have not fulfilled their COVID-19 testing requirement. 

    Employees who are denied facility entry are directed to immediately contact their supervisors. Supervisors should:

    1. Reiterate the COVID-19 testing requirement;

    2. Ask the employee why they are noncompliant;

    3. Direct the employee to take immediate action to test, and avoid a violation of UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM) Chapter 290-01 Interim Public Health Policy. Employees are allowed to return to campus upon receiving a COVID-19 test.

    Once an employee tests (day 0), they must test again within seven days.

    1. On day eight, if that employee has not tested again, Employee and Labor Relations will notify the employee’s supervisor.

    2. The supervisor will direct the employee to complete a Qualtrics Survey and provide their reason for not testing again (e.g., employee was off on vacation, out sick, on leave, or the employee no longer has a need to access campus).

    3. The supervisor verifies the reason provided and informs Student Health and Counseling Services of employees who ARE in compliance. Employees who remain out of compliance must take action to avoid disciplinary action according to UC Davis interim public health policy.

  • What if I have a question about testing that is not already answered?
  • If you cannot find an answer to your question about testing on the Campus Ready website, then please contact


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