Saliva testing available for asymptomatic individuals

by Karen Burbach, UNMC strategic communications | October 01, 2021

Image with caption: Jana Broadhurst, MD, PhD

Jana Broadhurst, MD, PhD

Beginning Monday, Oct. 4, UNMC will offer free COVID-19 saliva testing for asymptomatic students, staff and faculty members on the Omaha campus. Resources are outlined below for UNMC faculty, staff and students on the Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk and Scottsbluff campuses.

In Omaha, saliva collection will take place at the:

"UNMC faculty, staff and students on the Omaha campus who are not sick and want to be tested for COVID-19 for any reason are encouraged to drop by and use this free service, regardless of their vaccination status," said Jane Meza, PhD, interim executive director of the Office of Health Security. "Providing this service better enables us to identify infections before the onset of symptoms and when individuals may not realize they are contagious. Beyond vaccination and masking, it’s another way to help our community reduce the spread of disease."

Jana Broadhurst, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology and microbiology in the UNMC College of Medicine, agreed. "This novel saliva PCR test methodology developed here in our clinical lab is designed for fast and accurate SARS-CoV-2 screening with easy sample collection -- you simply spit in a tube. Screening testing provides insight into how much a disease is spreading in a community, especially when or if access to testing is limited."

UNMC’s Regional Pathology Services will staff the testing site, which is for asymptomatic individuals only. Individuals on the Omaha campus who have COVID-19 symptoms may obtain testing at Student Health (402-559-7204) or Employee Health (402-552-3563).

Saliva PCR testing will be performed by the UNMC Emerging Pathogens Laboratory with results returned by email within a day.

UNMC faculty, staff and students on campuses outside of Omaha may obtain testing through the following resources (details vary per site so please contact directly for more info):

  • Kearney campus - UNK Student Health at 1-308-865-8279 or email UNKHealth@unk.edu. Learn more.
  • Lincoln campus - Learn more about UNL’s saliva-based testing program.  
  • Norfolk campus - Rapid and standard COVID-testing is available through Faith Regional Occupational Medicine.
  • Scottsbluff campus - Access the Nomi Health drive-thru testing site near Regional West Medical Center, which is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are preferred but not required. Register here. Walgreens is another option.

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