Getting Back to School: University Develops Own Rapid Test

Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 10:08:00-04

LANSING, Mich. — Developing its own rapid COVID-test. Maya Rodriguez tells us how it’s working so far and whether other colleges can do the same. Six months into the pandemic hundreds of thousands of college students are back on campus, a mixture of in-person and hybrid classes, that includes about 4,000 students on the campus of George Washington University in the nation’s capital.

Dr. Lynn Goldman, GWU School of Public Health Dean explained: “we came up with a strategy of returning to campus tests all the students on return.”

Dr. Goldman says widespread testing was the goal, but there was a problem. “our clinicians at our hospital were very, very frustrated by the inability to order tests.”

So they decided to create their own rapid COVID-test using technology and know how they had on hand. Dr. Goldman shared “we already had tests where we were doing large amounts of molecular biology research.”

They got emergency FDA approval and now everyone – students, faculty, staff – get tested. So far there have only been 17 positive cases out of more than 13,000 tests done. “Keep your fingers crossed. We have not seen much evidence of transmission on our campus or even off campus with our students at all.”But across the country – the situation is different. According to data from more than 1600 colleges and universities compiled this week by the New York Times more than 130,000 college students have so far tested positive at more than 1300 college campuses.

This week the CDC reported from early August to early September COVID cases for people 18 to 22 years old rose 55% coinciding with when students returned to college campuses. The biggest increases seen in the northeast (+144%) and midwest (+123%). Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explained "there are areas of the country where we're starting to see the uptick in test positivity, which is generally a predictor that you're going to start seeing surges." Surges they’re hoping to avoid at George Washington University which says their testing program can be pulled off at other schools.

As Dr. Goldman explained “every university that has a medical center has a clinical lab. Some student health services have clinical labs. Almost everybody has a clinic in their community. I think that this can be replicated.”

A potential part of the solution in getting coronavirus at colleges under control.

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