The value of aggressive coronavirus testing has been one of the main lessons of the fall. “We made significant changes to our testing protocols during the semester,” said Michael Fitts, President of Tulane. “At one point we moved it up to three times a week, and we found it to be very effective, and we’ll continue that into the spring.
Tulane has access to two testing machines through its medical school, which can perform 3,000 tests per day and get results in 12 hours. “I will say our positivity rate was much lower than in New Orleans,” Fitts said of the university, which lives in the city.
Syracuse learned its lesson after Halloween, when the lab he was using produced results too slowly and transmission got out of hand, Mr Haynie said. The university now has its own testing laboratory, within the biology department. For the spring, it plans to double its capacity to around 300,000 tests between January and May.
“We realized we needed to have complete control and autonomy,” said Haynie.
Likewise, Cornell University has set up a laboratory at its veterinary school, where it can perform 35,000 to 40,000 tests per week and get results in as little as eight hours. UC San Diego also processes its own tests.
UC San Diego not only performs standard swab testing but also sewage testing, expanding contact tracing with a phone app and moving instructions to outdoor classrooms. As of Saturday, the school had only registered about 70 cases since March among the more than 9,000 students living on campus, according to the school’s dashboard.
“It’s like a model of Swiss cheese,” said Pradeep Khosla, chancellor of UC San Diego and an engineer specializing in building systems. “Each layer has its holes, but together it’s a solid block.”