UAB Sentinel testing working, but officials say it needs more compliance

Tracking COVID-19 on campus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More good news from Alabama’s college campuses: It looks like the spread of COVID-19 remains low.

Thursday at UAB, health leaders provided an update on how things are going - especially with the Sentinel Testing Program.

Sentinel testing involves voluntary testing of students and staff after school has started and everybody enrolled. So far, numbers are looking good.

College campuses tested students before school started and now Sentinel testing hopes to track how the potential spread of the coronavirus is going on those campuses. So far, more than 40 campuses are taking part across Alabama.

There have been 8,000 sentinel tests given so far since classes started back. Of that number, only 0.46% have tested positive.

It’s important to find those who are asymptomatic and stop the spread before becoming symptomatic. This is done by invitation. There is concern not everyone is taking up the invitation.

“Probably about half of our invitations that go out come in and get tested,” Bob Phillips, Executive Director of GuideSafe, said.

The school would like to see more people take part in the testing.

“One limitation that we are working through is making this mandatory. One of the biases is that some people can decide not to be tested. Especially if they think they have had some risk,” said Dr. Michael Saag with the UAB Infectious Diseases Division.

If students or staff believe they may have been exposed, they may not want to be tested and quarantined.

Dr. Saag still believes Sentinel testing gives them a snapshot of what’s going on at Alabama college campuses.

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