Responding to COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the DFW COVID-19 Prevalence Study below. As more information becomes available, we will update these responses.

If you have questions that are not related to this study, please see additional COVID-19 information on our website. UT Southwestern is actively responding to the spread of COVID-19, with our infectious disease physicians leading efforts to keep patients informed, educated, and safe.

I received a letter in the mail asking me to participate in the DFW COVID Study. I am interested in being tested. What do I do now?

We hope you will consider participating! Please follow the instructions detailed in your letter, as it has a code unique to you. If you can’t find your letter or need help, please contact us at 877-256-8029 or DFW_COVID19@rti.org.

UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Resources have launched this prevalence study to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Please participate in this effort to help reopen our economy safely and return to our normal lives.

How are participants being chosen for the study, and why was I selected?

Participants in this study will be selected randomly from Dallas and Tarrant counties, unlike other COVID studies that use a volunteer sample. This will ensure that study results accurately represent our diverse communities in terms of socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity.

As a study participant, will I receive my result? If so, how long will it take for me to receive it and how will I receive it?

UT Southwestern will contact participants with active infection within 24-48 hours by phone. During that call, we will let you know the next steps to take in treating your illness. Those without active infection will receive their results by mail within one to two weeks.

If my results are positive, will I have access to care?

If your results are positive, UT Southwestern will provide you with resources to receive the proper care to treat COVID-19.

Can I volunteer to participate?

Thank you for your interest in the DFW COVID-19 Prevalence Study. Unlike other COVID studies that use a volunteer sample, this study will use data from participants selected randomly from all over Dallas and Tarrant counties.

We regret that we cannot include volunteer participants but sincerely appreciate your interest. There will be more opportunities to participate over the next couple months, so there is still a chance you could be invited in the near future! If you would like to volunteer to help spread the word about the study in the interim, please reply to this email. This role is critical in helping us get people to respond and get access to the needed information as quickly as possible.

If you are concerned you have COVID and want to be tested, there are other sites that offer testing. For existing COVID-19 testing locations across the Metroplex, please refer to: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/coronavirus/testing.aspx

How can I get my community involved in this study?

We welcome support and assistance from community organizations and leaders across Dallas and Tarrant counties to raise awareness and increase participation in this important study. If you are interested in serving as a community influencer to help both the general public and your members and constituents better understand the study goals and why community involvement is helpful, please email us at dfwcovidstudy@utsouthwestern.edu.

What testing are you doing?

We are using two different COVID tests. The first is a nasal swab to test for current infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. This detects the presence of the virus in your body. This test is also called a PCR test or RNA test. The second is a blood test. The blood test detects antibodies to COVID-19 in your body. This is also called a serology test. If you have antibodies, it is likely that you were exposed to COVID-19 in the past and no longer have an active infection.

Why are you doing two tests? What’s the difference?

There are currently two types of COVID-19 tests. One uses a nasal swab to tests current infection and the other tests for infection in the past by measuring antibodies to COVID-19 in your blood. We still don’t know how long one might be protected from becoming re-infected. We hope the combination of the two tests will help us answer some of these questions.

If I’m selected, where will I get tested?

Testing sites are located throughout Dallas and Tarrant counties. The list can be found on our study locations page. We may add more sites in the future. If you received a letter about the prevalence study and do not have transportation to a site, please contact us at 877-256-8029.

Can I still participate if I already had a COVID test?

There is still value to be re-tested for you personally and for the community. If you previously tested negative, then you could have been exposed since that time and might not have had any symptoms. If the test was positive, we will be doing an antibody test and can determine how many antibodies you have against the virus. From a community standpoint, it is important that as many people who are invited participate as possible. This will help us calculate the best estimate for how widespread COVID-19 is in Dallas and Tarrant Counties and to better inform policies such as social distancing and the re-opening of businesses.

I heard antibody testing isn’t reliable. What is the study doing to address this?

There has been a lot of confusion in the media about whether antibody tests are consistent and accurate, so we understand your concern. UT Southwestern has performed extensive testing to make sure the antibody test we are using is reliable. All antibody tests for the study will be run at UTSW labs using a validated, highly accurate testing protocol. The test will detect 99 percent of people who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past (true positive result) and, similarly, will be negative in 99 percent of people without prior exposure (true negative result). We have been careful to select a test that has both high true positive and high true negative results.

What does it mean if I test positive?

If your test by nasal swab is positive, then you currently have an active COVID-19 infection and can pass on the virus to others. We will contact you to share testing resources for your family and household members as well as friends and co-workers with whom you have recently been in close contact. We will also work with Dallas County Health and Human Services to do contact tracing.

If your blood test is positive for antibodies to COVID-19, then you were likely exposed to COVID-19 in the past, do not have an active infection, and you are not currently passing the virus on to others. We will contact all people with positive results to explain the results in more detail.

How will we know what you learn?

We will use this website, social media, and other connections to keep our participants and the community informed. We plan to update the community at regular intervals (every 1-2 weeks) as the study enrolls participants. Please check this website during the fall to hear about study findings.

We have been testing patients around DFW in their homes and in the community. Is there an opportunity to collaborate with THR and UTSW?

UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources faculty and physicians are leveraging internal resources for this study. We appreciate you reaching out to us, but at this time we are not seeking external resources. We will keep your information on file and reach out if the situation changes.

We are asking for your support in sharing the information on the study by encouraging your network to do the following:

  • Be on the lookout for an invitation to participate in the study and then respond quickly.
  • Tell neighbors, friends, and co-workers about the study.
  • Post information about the study on social media.

#DFWAnswertheCall #DFWRespondeAlLlamado

We would like for our laboratory to be a part of this study. How can we collaborate?

Thank you for your interest, but all samples are currently being run in our lab at UT Southwestern. If we are unable to process samples in a timely manner, we will reach out for assistance. If you would like to help spread the word about the study, this would be of immense help. To assist us in getting this needed information out to our local community as soon as possible, please reply to this email.