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Answers to this week’s top COVID-19/Safer Badgers questions 

January 15, 2021

As the first week of the new spring semester testing wraps up, we want to thank students and employees for their patience and dedication to this new process. Teams across the university are working hard to get everything ready for the start of class on Jan. 25.  

As we move toward the start of the semester, we have received many good questions about spring requirements and have compiled them in an extensive set of Frequently Asked Questions, which you may filter by six topic areas.

Here are some of this week’s top questions:  

Safer Badgers App 

Q: I’m having trouble getting the app to work. Who do I contact for help? 

A: We can help. Please contact the DoIT Help Desk, (608) 264-4357,   


Q: I took a test and it came back rejected. How can I make sure this doesn’t happen?

A: What the lab needs to successfully run your test is the liquid portion of your saliva. Your saliva must be clear and not discolored, free of food and mucus, and cannot contain residues such as those from brushing your teeth or smoking.

In the hour before your test:

  • Do not drink (including water)
  • Do not eat
  • Do not brush or floss your teeth, or use mouthwash
  • Do not chew gum or smoke

You may also want to rinse or gargle your mouth with water to remove any discoloration (such as from coffee) or small pieces of food. Be sure to do this at least one hour before your test.

At your test:

  • Follow the tips for producing enough saliva (see below).
  • Pool your drool under your tongue.
  • Keep your face covering on before you begin to drool into your funnel and tube; replace it between deposits.
  • Slide the tip of your tongue along your gums behind your teeth to stimulate your salivary glands and deposit this saliva in the funnel.
  • Avoid swishing saliva in your mouth or pulling saliva from the back of your mouth.

These are the most common reasons saliva samples rejected by the lab:

  • Too much saliva (you need a 1.0 – 1.5 mL of liquid saliva, not including bubbles, but no more)
  • Too little saliva (below 1.0 mL)
  • Discoloration
  • Visible clumps of food, mucus or other residues like toothpaste
  • Note: Bubbles will be in your saliva funnel and your sample. As long as the liquid drains to the bottom and you have enough, that is fine.

If you notice any of these things as you are submitting your sample, ask to start over again with a new tube. It’s better to redo your test at your scheduled appointment than have to do it over again the next day.

Q. I am having a hard time producing enough saliva for my test. Do you have any tips?

A: In order to run a COVID-19 test on your saliva sample, you will need to contribute 1 mL-1.5 mL of drool. Be careful not to overfill the tube, too. If this happens, it’s best to ask a member of the test site staff to start again with a new tube. Some tips:

  • Hydrate earlier in the day by drinking plenty of water up until one hour before your test.
  • Pool your drool underneath your tongue as you walk or drive to your test site.
  • Think about foods you really like to eat. Think about sour foods like lemons.
  • Slide the tip of your tongue along your gums behind your teeth to stimulate your salivary glands and deposit this saliva in the funnel.

Try starting to “pool your drool” on your walk or drive to your test, and as you check in, to get the process started.

Q: How long does a saliva test take and when will I get the test results? 

A: The testing process should take a few minutes. Results will be available within 24 hours. Results will be provided to you on the Safer Badgers app and via the myUHS portal. 

Q: What is being done to ensure safety at testing sites? 

A: Test sites were evaluated for safety and feasibility by a team including University Health Services; Environment, Health and Safety and Facilities Planning and Management and designed to maintain appropriate physical distancing and low density. Each location is cleaned frequently. 

When performed correctly, submitting a saliva sample should not result in creation of aerosols. Sample submission involves drooling into a funnel fitted over a collection tube, so there should be no spitting, forceful throat clearing or other expulsive actions. 

We also encourage individuals to wear their face coverings while pooling saliva, in between drooling into the funnel. We ask for patience early on as people adapt to the new approach. 

Q: If I’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, do I still need to be tested? 

A: While we know that the majority of people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine will have some level of protection against SARS CoV-2, the vaccine efficacy rate is not 100%, which can result in some who are vaccinated contracting and transmitting the virus. Currently, the CDC and WI Department of Health Services recommend that those who receive the vaccine continue to test. The CDC is engaging in research to better define transmission within the population of those who have been vaccinated, but those questions may take six months to a year to answer. Until further research and recommendations by the CDC are available, we are requiring vaccinated individuals to be tested as determined by the campus policies for their population. 

Q: Can I take a nasal swab test instead of a saliva-based test?

A: At this time, unless you are a residence hall student or have a medical condition that would interfere with saliva-based testing, you will need to seek on-campus saliva testing.

Building access 

Q: If I get tested off campus, can I use my results to obtain building access?  

A: No, on-campus testing is required for building access. 


Q: Does the Safer Badgers app track my location? 

A: No, the app does not utilize GPS or geolocation to track your location. 

During the setup phase of the app, users will self-select if they wish to use the low energy Bluetooth proximity notification feature. Users can turn this feature off at any time.

Location services are only used for the low energy Bluetooth proximity notification feature of Safer Badgers, to tell you when you’ve been in proximity to someone who has tested positive. All data is anonymous, meaning as a COVID-19 positive individual, you will not know who is receiving proximity notifications, and as a receiver of a proximity notification you will not know who the notification came from.

Tags: covid-19