Closing of COVID SAFE


Dear Colleagues,

Throughout the City and our campus, we continue to see an increased vaccinated population and a decline in COVID-19 cases.  As the need for routine screening decreases, we plan to close our COVID SAFE surveillance testing sites on June 23, 2021.

COVID SAFE has been an incredible resource and source of support, a shining example of the tremendous talents and collaboration of our community to find ways to improve public health.  When the gravity of the pandemic became clear, we quickly established a Rapid Assay Task Force to guide our response.  Under the direction of the Task Force and in partnership with the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation and Way to Health, we developed the first saliva-based viral testing and screening program at Penn to help identify and prevent the spread of new COVID-19 cases among members on campus. 

Since COVID SAFE was rolled out last fall, we’ve enrolled 4,700 participants and performed nearly 67,700 tests.  This program provided all of us with confidence that our mitigation measures were working, and we could feel safe in our work place.  In addition, several papers have been and will be published that will help the greater scientific community learn about and from our methods.

I am incredibly proud of COVID SAFE, which epitomizes collaborative, team science at its finest.  This effort would not be possible without the outstanding leadership and dedication of my esteemed colleagues; in particular, I would like to thank: Rick Bushman, Scott Sherrill-Mix, Greg Van Duyne, Arupa Ganguly and her team running the COVID SAFE lab, and Mitesh Patel, Alli Oakes, and team from the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation and Way to Health developing flexible technological solutions.  A full list of contributors is below.

Furthermore, I remain thankful to the many members of our community contributing to this effort, from our facilities teams and those who shared equipment to stand-up the lab quickly, to the volunteers and lab personnel who support specimen processing. 

In the coming weeks, we will provide updated information on testing requirements by the University.  For now, those of you who are enrolled in COVID SAFE have the opportunity to transition to Penn Cares testing, with more information found here.

Stay safe and be well,