Up to 5,000 students will be tested this week in response to a surge of cases over the past several days.
Elon’s COVID-19 testing efforts were expanded beginning Monday, Oct. 26, using a new provider. The testing began about mid-day, with about 425 students tested within four hours. Elon plans to test about 1,300 students Tuesday and hopes to test up to 5,000 students by the end of the week.
The tests are being conducted at 10 stations staffed by Elon employees in Alumni Gymnasium. The tests are self-administered, anterior nasal swab PCR tests, which have a high degree of accuracy.
Students are notified via email that they have been selected for testing and they use an online form to make an appointment. Testing began with students related to known clusters of cases and will expand on Wednesday to include a large part of the student population on campus.
This testing effort is in response to the surge of cases on campus since Friday, Oct. 23. Monday’s positive case count was 19 cases after 32 cases on Sunday and 61 cases on Saturday. The large majority (more than 70 percent) of these cases were related to recently reported clusters of cases among several sororities and fraternities. There continues to be no evidence of virus transmission in classrooms and there is limited transmission in the student body beyond these clusters of cases.
Elon staff met with county and state health officials to review plans to test most of the student population and to aggressively use quarantine and isolation for students who test positive and those who have had close contact with positive cases. On Friday, Elon increased its designated quarantine spaces in area hotels and is negotiating this week to contract for additional spaces. On Monday, there were 466 students in quarantine or isolation, the highest level of the semester.
“While we conduct the largest testing effort since we began the semester in August, we continue to stress that personal behavior is the key to reducing the number of cases on campus,” said Jeff Stein, vice president for strategic initiatives and chair of Elon’s Ready & Resilient Committee. “It is ESSENTIAL that everyone wear masks and maintain physical distance from others.”