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COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing

WCU has developed protocols in consultation with Jackson County Public Health officials for diagnostic COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. WCU Health Services has the capability of offering both the rapid antigen diagnostic test, as well as resources to collect specimens for the PCR molecular test, which would be sent to an independent lab for processing.  Antibody testing is also available.

WCU officials have also been in communication with Harris Hospital and MAHEC staff. WCU will support and cooperate with Jackson County Department of Public Health’s leadership on contact tracing.

To see the current daily active case count and the cumulative positive confirmed cases visit our COVID-19 Reporting page.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

WCU’s Health Services will administer COVID-19 diagnostic tests based on CDC criteria. Testing is also available from local health care providers.  

Faculty and staff are encouraged to stay home and contact their primary care provider to seek diagnostic testing if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Please see the guidance provided by WCU Human Resources for COVID-19 Guidance and Protocols included on the Employee Resources website.

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing at WCU Health Services

Call Ahead for Appointments

Health Services will require patients to call for an appointment for any healthcare services requested this semester. Walk-in appointments are not available. This will allow for individuals to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and directed to the most appropriate location to access Health Services.

For patients that are have been scheduled for COVID-19 testing, directions will be provided at the time of scheduling to either see a provider at Madison Residential Hall or at Bird in the Red Zone (the area at Bird with the red top tent).

Please refer to healthservices.wcu.edu for specific directions on how to arrive at your appointment.  

Availability of Testing

Testing at WCU Health Services will not be available upon request. Tests are administered at Health Services based on medical provider guidance issued from the CDC and the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, follow CDC guidelines to prevent further spread and call WCU Health Services at 828.227.7640 to discuss your symptoms and concerns with a healthcare provider to determine the need for testing.

Testing Results

Rapid antigen results are available within 20 minutes; however, if the result is negative, your medical provider may order a confirmation molecular test that can take up to five days for results to be received.  You will be required to self-isolate while awaiting test results.

Quarantine and Isolation

Individuals that are awaiting test results will be directed to quarantine. Quarantine is a period of self-isolation for individuals that may have been exposed to a contagious illness to see if they become sick.

If your test result is positive, you will continue self-isolation until you have been given medical clearance to end your isolation period. Isolation is the period of time that a known sick person must separate themselves from others until they are well.

Health Services will always recommend that you choose to self-isolate in the comfort of your own home/permanent residence. For students living on-campus who cannot travel home, Madison Residence Hall has been designated an isolation facility. Faculty and staff should self-isolate consistent with university guidance already shared in Human Resources information.

Notifications

WCU Health Services will continue to follow WCU policies and procedures for patient and student confidentiality. Consistent with current practice, students self-isolated and awaiting COVID-19 test results may request a documented absence notification for their faculty. Students will also be encouraged to communicate directly with their faculty. In many cases, you will be able to continue with your studies.

COVID-19 Testing in the Local Medical Communities

Jackson County Testing Providers

  • Harris Regional Hospital Urgent Care: 828.631.9463 (8:00am-6:30pm, 7 days)
  • Harris Regional Hospital: 828.586.7000 (24 hrs / 7 days)
  • Blue Ridge Health - Jackson: 828.477.4334 (8:00am-Noon, 1:00pm-4:30pm, Monday-Friday)
  • Mountain Park Urgent Care: 828.631.3181 (10:00am-Noon, Monday-Thursday)
  • Additional testing sites are located throughout North Carolina.

Buncombe County Testing Providers

  • Central Buncombe – AB Tech, Genevieve Circle 828.419.0095
  • Range Urgent Care – North Asheville 828.412.0327 (8:00am – 7:30pm)
  • FastMed Urgent Care 828.210.2835 (8:00am-8:00pm)
  • MAHEC Family Health Center at Biltmore 828.257.4730 (8:00am-5:00pm)
  • Mercy Urgent Care West Asheville 828.252.4878  (8:00am-8:00pm)
  • Mercy Urgent Care East Asheville 828.210.8325 (9:00am – 4:00pm)
  • Mercy Urgent Care South Asheville 828.274.1462 (9:00am – 4:00pm)
  • Mission My Care Now Biltmore Park 828.213.4444 (7:00am-7:00pm)
  • Pardee Urgent Care, Fletcher 828.651.6350 (8:00am – 7:00pm)
  • Additional testing sites are located throughout North Carolina

Contact Tracing

Jackson County Department of Public Health officials have authority for the contact tracing procedures in Jackson County, including at Western Carolina University. Buncombe County Department of Public Health officials have authority for contract tracing in Buncombe County.

WCU staff members have worked to develop a partnership with Jackson County Public Health and Buncombe County Public Health officials.

In general terms, contact tracing follows these steps

  • Positive test results are reported by a licensed health care provider to the patient and to the Public Health Department based on the home address provided by the patient. For example, a WCU student that tests positive and lists a home address in Wake County will have results reported to Wake County. Public Health officials have authority to initiate contact tracing.
  • The contact tracing process begins with a conversation between a public health official and the patient with the positive test result. The patient will be asked to identify individuals they had direct contact with and meeting the following criteria:
    • Contact over the prior 48 hours
    • Did not maintain 6 feet of physical distance
    • Did not wear a mask
  • The identified individuals that meet those criteria will be contacted, asked to self-isolate and monitor for any symptoms. Individuals will not be told the name of the person that tested positive.
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