Is Testing Students for COVID Feasible?

Test and heart, test and track, test and trace.

So goes the ad almost all universities that school will be open to students in the fall.

"We intend to find out as much as possible about the state of viral health of our community," Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, wrote in a letter to the community of the campus announcing the intention to open back. "It will include a robust system tests during the school year."

"The test is an absolute prerequisite" wrote the president of Brown University Christina Paxson on a New York Times opinion piece. "All schools should be able to perform rapid tests for the coronavirus for all students when they first arrive on campus and at regular intervals throughout the year."

The American College Health Association included in the guidelines to institutions that a "return to an active campus environment depend on widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation / quarantine of sick and exposed individuals both on campus and in the community. "

However, universities can have access to these diagnostic tests, or even pay them? The answer is complicated.

Earlier this year, as the pandemic opens way quietly in the bloodstream of Americans, the testing regime in the US, obviously, was not optimal. The Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention sent out faulty tests first, and then none at all.

Craig Roberts, an emeritus epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, ACHA consultant and a member of his COVID -19 working group, said the ability of the test has grown since then, and for the most part should not be a problem for universities in the fall.

"Before you can open again, in this case a university, they have to have the ability rather than providing diagnostic tests for students, staff and faculty," he said. "Make sure that if someone is experiencing any symptoms of COVID who can take the test immediately."

He added that "in most areas of the country, most jurisdictions, that kind of ability tests are already beginning to happen and probably by the fall will be a thing so common to be simple. in fact, it will be that many local public health departments are offering tests on a daily basis. "

a large outbreak could still overwhelm a system, he said, but that's where officials state and local health could intervene to help.

Dr. Michael Diechen, associate vice president of health services student at the University of Central Florida and a member of the working group ACHA, this ability of diagnostic tests is not a major concern in your area.

"testability has been expanded well in the United States. Indeed, in Florida, where the UCF, it seems we have ample evidence," he said. Whether the availability of evidence is sufficient is measured by the percentage of positive tests that come back with a golden rule being less than 6 percent is better. UCF is where that number is 1 to 2 percent, he said.

"Assuming things continue as they are during the summer, it'll be fine," he said.

Roberts said small universities with health centers students may need small organizations associated with health care, systems or local agencies, in order not to be overwhelmed by the evidence. Many university administrations have indicated that is what they intend to do.

In the UCF, Dr. Diechen said the university has a community partner that has launched the unit through testing.

Calvin. University, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is another university that has chosen to partner with a company health service - in this case Helix Diagnostics -. to help with the test

"I do not see enough to say that the government at the county or state is really prepared to do contact tracing and testing on a scale that is needed," he said Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin. "We know that tests are more available now, but as places of ramp work backup and many companies are doing this kind of testing, and as some educational institutions are going to do this type of testing, the demand for the same in the short ISN term 't go away. "

Le Roy also said that the creation of an association now the propeller is allowed to build capacity and get supplies and labor to finish.

The university will have 5,000 tests for about 4,000 students and members of staff. Students and staff will be tested as they arrive on campus, with 1,000 additional evidence left for the semester.

There is no easy answer to how many tests each university will need, Roberts said. In the same way, the number of rooms for quarantine and isolation need a school to set aside is also hard to say.

"You may have a case of this semester or you could have 1000," he said.

The idea of ​​testing before arrival or try them all once a week is common in other college plans, but Roberts said he could not be the best use of resources.

"I have not seen any standardized CDC recommendations or health departments of state for mass testing of any community," he said. "It makes little sense to me for testing by mass of a whole population when that population is re-exposed to daily."

Resources might be better spent on contact tracing and quarantine capacity, he said.

But Le Roy said the symptoms of COVID-19 often being minimal in the age group between 18 and 22 years old, no preselection could invite trouble.

Dr. Diechen said UCF is looking at the screening to all students living in dormitories, and potentially including athletes and students who come from areas of hot spots.

"Only one person detection can prevent an outbreak," he said.

ACHA guidelines similarly call for contact tracing, which Le Roy said that has not been nailed down Calvino, although the university is working on it.

Roberts said the residences are likely to be a major problem for schools. ACHA guidelines call for each student to be placed in a private room, ideally with a private bathroom, so that many universities are not prepared to offer. Those who do have underlined inventory will be provided private rooms, while others are looking for creative solutions, such as the acquisition of temporary housing. That's not even talk about what inevitably happens when students need to be quarantined.

"Often in this field residences cruises are compared," Roberts said.

If there is a problem with the test, he said, is unlikely to be a problem of capacity and more likely to be financial. Their own institution, the University of Wisconsin, the tests cost about $ 20 million for a round of testing had previously she said. Timothy White, rector of the State University of California, said that to test half of students in the system once a week would cost $ 25 million a week, too bear system.

"We're finding out as we go," Roberts said. "There is no playbook given we can work it out."

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