Coronavirus: vial with pipette in laboratory

COVID-19 Information and Resources for Clinical Staff

Columbia University Irving Medical Center offers the following guidance and resources to help our clinical staff respond to COVID-19. Our top priority is to provide the best possible care for our patients while ensuring the safety of our clinical staff who are on the front lines.

If you have questions about the screening or management of a patient, please contact Shunichi (Nick) Homma, MD, CMO ColumbiaDoctors, at sh23@cumc.columbia.edu. For questions on University-led testing or the University test and trace program, please email covidtesttrace@columbia.edu. For all other questions, please email covid19questions@cumc.columbia.edu.

For the most up-to-date guidance and clinical support documents, please see the COVID-19 Information resource page on the NewYork-Presbyterian Infonet. This page coalesces information on clinical resources, patient and visitor guidance, key infection prevention & control guidance, healthcare personnel guidance, and regulatory guidelines.

Testing, Daily Attestations, and Gateway Requirements

Asymptomatic Testing

Columbia offers testing in five locations, with two sites operating five days per week. University testing appointments open 7-10 days in advance, so please plan accordingly. To ensure opportunities to be tested, please book your appointment in advance of your desired testing date. Capacity has been expanded, but demand for testing is high, so consider all of the potential sites.

Please note that walk-in testing is not available during January 2022, and tests from non-University sites cannot be used to meet the University-required COVID-19 tests.

Symptomatic Testing

Symptomatic testing of clinical personnel only will be done by NYP in the Milstein Heart Center. Symptomatic testing will only be conducted for clinical staff who will be working in clinical settings and not for travel or other testing for any other purpose. All appointments must be scheduled via Connect. Select "schedule an appointment" from the Menu tab and then select "NYP/WCM/CUIMC Employee Labs and Testing" as the reason for coming in, followed by "Yes" to scheduling.

Hours of Operation

  • Monday–Friday: 7AM—7PM
  • Saturday–Sunday: 8:30AM–5PM

Outside Testing

While Columbia is doing its own testing on campus, we also urge you to report any outside positive test results you do receive to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu so that we have an accurate picture of COVID-19 positive cases amongst our affiliates and can provide you with information on available resources.

Gateway Testing

All residential undergraduate students are required to test through the Columbia testing program on the first business day after your return to campus and again between days 5 and 7. All other students are required to get a Columbia gateway test within 72 hours of their return to campus. Gateway testing is also required for all non-student affiliates who did not receive a Columbia gateway test in 2021.

Campus access will be allowed while awaiting results of the gateway test. After January 28, 2022, red passes will be applied to all those who are not compliant with the gateway testing requirement.  You may notice that the testing requirement box on the ReOpenCU app will be unchecked until after you have completed the requirement.  Please allow up to 72 hours for the box to be checked following your University gateway test.

Columbia offers testing in five locations, with two sites operating five days per week. Testing sites are reopening for testing on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. University testing appointments open 7-10 days in advance so please plan accordingly. To ensure opportunities to be tested, please book your appointment in advance of your desired testing date, consider all of the potential sites, and remember that it is not possible to add people to a fully booked schedule. On select days, the Lerner Hall location will be offering extended hours. Please note that walk-in testing is not available during January 2022, and tests from non-University sites cannot be used to meet the University-required COVID-19 tests.

Affiliates with a Recent Positive PCR Test

If you had a PCR positive test in the past 90 days, and reported this to the University as required by the Columbia University Community Health Compact, you will be considered compliant with the gateway requirement.  Please do not re-test unless directed to do so by a healthcare provider and refer to the testing FAQ on how to submit your documentation in case of a positive test result.

Morningside and CUIMC Graduate and Professional Students
All students are strongly recommended to get a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to campus. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.

  • Gateway testing for fully vaccinated students: Get a gateway COVID-19 PCR test from a Columbia testing location within 72 hours after your return to campus.  
  • Gateway testing for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students: Get a COVID-19 PCR gateway test from a Columbia testing location prior to accessing campus, and weekly thereafter if you have an approved exemption or until you are fully vaccinated.

Faculty & Staff

All faculty and staff that have traveled, have been away for a period of time, or have participated in social events and gatherings are strongly recommended to get a PCR test from a local testing site 48 hours prior to returning to University facilities. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.  

  • New faculty, researcher, or staff OR any individual who has not received a gateway test since Jan. 1, 2021: Get a gateway COVID-19 PCR test from a Columbia testing location within 72 hours after accessing the campus.
  • Returning faculty, researcher, or staff: In light of holiday travel and gathering, all non-student affiliates are strongly recommended to receive a PCR test before or as you return to campus at either Columbia testing sites or other community testing locations. There is no need to provide proof of this test, unless it is positive.
  • Are you also a student? You must meet the relevant student requirements described above.

Daily Attestations

All Columbia affiliates (students, faculty, and staff employees) returning to the medical center for any purpose or who are living in campus housing are required to complete daily COVID-19 symptom attestations to ensure safety and prevent the spread of the virus. You will be able to complete the self-check online or by using the ReopenCU app. For more information, please see Symptom Self-Checking

New Hires 

New Hires are required to have a COVID-19 PCR test before starting work on campus. Upon the creation of their UNI, managers must alert the new hire that they can now self-schedule a test and instruct them on how to do so. For more information, see CUIMC Human Resources: Employment

COVID-19 Tracking Portal

All CUIMC employees may report any COVID-like illness, symptoms, test results, or COVID-related absences online through a new COVID-19 Tracking PortalThe self-service portal is to be used to report a COVID-like illness and/or quarantine orders. Positive COVID-19 test results must still be reported to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu regardless of being reported in the new tracking portal.

What’s Changing?

  • CUIMC employees may use the COVID-19 Tracking Portal to report a COVID-related illness, symptoms, and to upload PCR test results for themselves or a household family member.
  • CUIMC employees who use the portal will receive email notifications from the COVID-19 Tracking Portal with instructions for self-isolation dates, and return to work instructions.

What’s Staying the Same?

  • Continue to use the CUReopen App to self-monitor COVID19 symptoms and related issues
  • Continue to alert covidtesttrace@columbia.edu in the event of a positive COVID19 test
  • Follow Columbia Contact Tracing Team’s instructions and University policy for guidance and next steps 
  • Notify your manager on your absence, work status and return to work dates.
  • The Workforce Health & Safety (WHS) Hotline 646-697-9470 is available to answer questions about protocols related to COVID-19. The Hotline is available from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.   
  • Continue to work with CU Leave Management on Red Pass clearance procedures.

Questions regarding the University policy related to absences can be directed to Leave Management at leavemanagement@columbia.edu. Any other questions can be directed to CUIMC HR at cumchr@cumc.columbia.edu.

COVID-19 Safety Training

It is required that everyone working on campus is to complete online COVID-19 safety training before returning to their workplace, or as soon as possible for essential personnel. Principal Investigators, supervisors, and departments are responsible for ensuring that their personnel (faculty, staff, and students) complete the required training. Everyone must complete the Columbia Community Health Compact as part of this training. The terms of the existing Compact are being amended in light of the University’s revised policies, including the vaccine mandate.

Screening, Testing, PPE, and Transmission Precautions

For the most up-to-date guidance and clinical support documents, please see the COVID-19 Information resource page on the NewYork-Presbyterian Infonet. This page coalesces information on clinical resources, patient and visitor guidance, key infection prevention & control guidance, healthcare personnel guidance, and regulatory guidelines.

Screening, Testing, PPE, and Transmission Precautions

The following documents outline procedures related to COVID-19 and influenza screening, testing, and requirements for PPE and isolation precautions based on the latest CDC, NYC DOH/MH, and NYS DOH guidance for patients at any Columbia, NYP, or WCM facilities. For COVID-19 and INFLUENZA screening, testing, PPE, and transmission precautions, please see the following:

Transmission Precautions for Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19

For more information on testing in COVID patients and discontinuing precautions for COVID recovered patients, please see FAQs for COVID-19 Isolation Precautions and Duration of Infectivity (December 3, 2021) and Interim Guidance for Discontinuing Transmission-Based Precautions for Patients with Confirmed COVID-19 (December 16, 2021).

Protecting Patients and Health Care Personnel

For the most up-to-date guidance and clinical support documents, please see the COVID-19 Information resource page on the NewYork-Presbyterian Infonet. This page coalesces information on clinical resources, patient and visitor guidance, key infection prevention & control guidance, healthcare personnel guidance, and regulatory guidelines.

Universal Mask Use and Universal PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by All Employees

Universal masking requirements in the workplace at NYP, Columbia, and Weill Cornell remain unchanged, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. CDC public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people ONLY apply outside of the workplace and do NOT apply to healthcare settings or to offsite work-related events. Healthcare personnel (HCP) are in close, frequent contact with immunocompromised and other vulnerable patients (or in contact with other HCP who are patient-facing) and therefore should be especially cautious in avoiding scenarios where transmission could occur. For frequently asked questions and answers describing the rationale for universal use of well-fitting masks by ALL employees, please see FAQs for Universal Mask Use and Universal PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by All NYP Employees (July 14, 2021)

For a visual guide on how to properly adhere to COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines, see PPE Donning Guidelines for Direct Patient Care (February 10).

Use of Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment by NYP Patients and Visitors

As part of efforts to protect all patients, visitors, and health care personnel (HCP) from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, NYP recommends the use of a surgical mask by all patients (regardless of COVID-19 result), visitors, and HCP at all inpatient and affiliated ambulatory locations. This is to reduce possible transmission from individuals who have mild or asymptomatic COVID-19. Exceptions can be made for adult or pediatric (e.g., < 2 years old) patients who cannot tolerate a face mask. NYP will provide a surgical mask to all patients, visitors, and HCP, when they enter any inpatient or affiliated ambulatory location as well as upon request. If a patient or visitor chooses to wear their own cloth face covering, a surgical mask should be worn in addition (i.e. double mask). Patients or visitors who are wearing their own respirator (e.g., KN95) do not also require a surgical mask, however, if the respirator has an exhalation valve it must be covered by a surgical mask. Bandanas and gaiters are not acceptable face coverings. For more information, please see Interim Guidelines for Use of Face Coverings and Personal Protective Equipment by NYP Patients and Visitors (February 10, 2021).

Free Virtual Urgent Care for CUIMC Employees

All CUIMC employees are now eligible for free virtual urgent care visits with CUIMC and Weill Cornell emergency department physicians via NYPOnDemand. The NYPOnDemand app can be downloaded by visiting the NewYork-Presbyterian website.   

What to do if You Have Symptoms

If you have symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, loss of taste or smell), stay home

  • If your symptoms are mild, you do not need to seek medical care.
  • If you are a member of a higher risk group or your symptoms are severe, such as difficulty breathing, contact your primary care provider (PCP). 
  • If you are not a member of a higher risk group and your symptoms worsen after three or four days, contact your PCP. In about 80% of cases, symptoms resolve by themselves with supportive care (including rest, fluids, and taking fever reducing medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen). Stay at home for at least ten days after your symptoms first start and at least three days after you no longer have a fever (without the need to use fever-reducing medications), whichever is longer. 

Isolation & Quarantine

New York State, acting on guidance from the CDC, has modified isolation and quarantine as follows.

  • Isolation
    • All individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can end their isolation after 5 days if they are asymptomatic. Day 0 is considered the first day of symptom onset and/or the day of a positive test result.
  • Quarantine
    • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and have received booster dose, do not need to quarantine. Such individuals are recommended to get tested on day 5-7 after last exposure.
    • Individuals who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated or are eligible for a booster but have not yet received one should quarantine for 5 days – where day 0 is the last day of exposure – provided symptoms do not appear. Such individuals are recommended to get tested on day 5-7

Full details can be found on the New York State Department of Health website.

Contacting Workforce Health and Safety

All health care workers who were exposed to a patient or staff member under investigation or positive for COVID-19 in an NYP facility and who develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath must call the Workforce Health and Safety (WHS) hotline: 7 days a week, 6:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m., Phone: 646-697-9470.   

All health care workers who were contacted by DOH because of a confirmed community exposure or believe they may have exposed to someone outside of NYP with COVID-19 must call the Workforce Health and Safety hotline: 7 days a week, 6:00 a.m.- 11:00 p.m., Phone: 646-697-9470.   

A Workforce Health & Safety provider will contact the Department of Health as required on behalf of staff members and staff will be provided with instructions and guided through the process by WHS.

If you need immediate medical attention, please call your local ED, identify that you have had contact with a COVID-19 positive patient and they will ensure that you and all staff have proper personal protective equipment to prevent potential transmission.

If you test positive for COVID-19 at an outside provider or testing facility or you have been in close contact with a symptomatic and laboratory confirmed individual, immediately contact Workforce Health & Safety (646-697-9470). 

COVID-19 Tracking Portal

All CUIMC employees may report any COVID-like illness, symptoms, test results, or COVID-related absences online through a new COVID-19 Tracking Portal. The self-service portal is to be used to report a COVID-like illness and/or quarantine orders. Positive COVID-19 test results must still be reported to covidtesttrace@columbia.edu regardless of being reported in the new tracking portal.

An employee who follows an advised period of self-isolation should contact Workforce Health and Safety (646-697-9470) after the advised period of self-isolation and confirm their clearance to return to work and  CUHR Leave Management. 

Coping with Grief

It is important to know there are ways to cope with grief and to support those who are grieving for personal loss and loss of loved ones. Coping with Grief: A Resource Guide provides information and resources to help in the grieving process. For additional wellness resources, see CopeColumbia and Narrative Medicine below.

Transportation for Faculty and Staff

Beginning September 9, Columbia Transportation will provide commuter shuttle service for faculty and staff working on the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Medical Center campuses on weekdays during the Fall term.  

  • Service will begin on Wednesday, September 9.  
  • Routes are focused on key areas within the outer boroughs and Manhattan with easy connections to commuter rail and park-and-ride locations. Shuttles will run periodically throughout the day. A route map is available on the Transportation website.
  • Columbia University faculty and staff are eligible for this service.
  • The fare will be $4.50 each way, to be paid by credit or debit card at the time of reservation.
  • Rides on the commuter shuttles are by online reservation only. Spaces are first come, first served. To view a list of departure times and make a reservation, follow the instructions on the Transportation website.
  • You can view bus locations in real time using the Passio Go! app, which is free to download.
  • Buses will be capped at 50% capacity to facilitate distancing.  
  • Please familiarize yourself with the COVID-19 safety protocols before you ride. Passengers not wearing a face covering will not be allowed to board the bus. 
  • We will evaluate the usage of these shuttles for long-term service.  

Please consult the Transportation website for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). During business hours, you can call Columbia Transportation at 212-854-3382 or email us at transportation@columbia.edu.  

In addition to the Commuter Shuttles, Columbia Transportation offers a number of travel options between Columbia’s campuses. This fall, the Intercampus Shuttle will be making stops at 96th Street throughout the day, and Saturday service will be available following the Red Line. Columbia also offers an on-demand Evening Shuttle, powered by Via, that runs between 4 PM and 4 AM each night. For those interested in using Via outside of the Evening Shuttle service, Columbia affiliates can use the code 'CU2020' to unlock 20% off all private rides.

Travel Guidelines

Spring 2022 Travel Restrictions

Please refer to the University guidance regarding international/domestic personal travel: Spring 2022 Travel Restrictions

All travel beginning before January 18, 2022 remains subject to the Fall 2021 Travel Restrictions.

All affiliates must continue to abide by the Columbia Community Health Compact, all relevant University Public Health Protocols, and the University International Travel Planning Policy.

CopeColumbia

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented and uniquely trying time for our community, particularly for providers on the front lines.

In response, the Department of Psychiatry has partnered with ColumbiaDoctors and NewYork-Presbyterian in developing CopeColumbia, which provides information and resources for the CUIMC community, including counseling sessions, peer support groups, guided meditations, suggested reading, and other resources for managing stress, fear and anxiety.

To access these resources, please visit CopeColumbia. For any questions about CopeColumbia, or if you have any unmet needs, please email CopeColumbia@cumc.columbia.edu

Narrative Medicine

The Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics and its Division of Narrative Medicine is responding to CUIMC’s urgent needs for connection, stress-reduction, and remedy for isolation in the face COVID-19 and challenges to our health and safety. 

Narrative Medicine provides critical resources in response to the COVID crisis. Through Columbia Narrative Medicine, Columbia faculty, trainees, and staff can:

  • Sign up for a private, small-group seminar with those you work with (Naturally Occurring Work Groups, or NOW groups) to meet with a trained facilitator for regularly-occurring narrative sessions.
  • Join hour-long Zoom sessions with persons across the globe uniting for creative and reflective work. Through a blog discussion board, participants post their creative work and respond to one another’s postings.
  • Listen in to Creative Director novelist Nellie Hermann reading aloud a short story each day.
  • Join the NM Book Club
  • Use NM’s web resources of literary texts and visual images for reflection and solace and pleasure on your own time. We invite you to join us in all these projects at www.narrativemedicine.blog

We encourage you to write directly to Rita Charon, chair of Medical Humanities and Ethics, at rac5@columbia.edu with questions and requests.

Human Resources Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic has created fundamental changes in the workplace. Although we would prefer to go back to business as usual, some of the changes brought on by the crisis may become permanent and require long-term adjustment. Once you have returned to the workplace, CUIMC HR will continue to support and assist you with this transition. See COVID-19 Campus Safety for Employees and Students and Returning to the Workplace: A Resource Guide for resources that will help you with the transition back to work, such as workplace safety and benefits including child care. 

Campus Status

For the most up-to-date information regarding campus status, including closures, parking information, and campus operations, visit Facilities Management and Campus Services COVID-19 resources page. Information is updated frequently as the impact of the virus changes locally and nationally.

Recent updates, campus resources, and additional information are also available through at covid19.columbia.edu.

Additional Resources