Western's COVID Testing Program Recognized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

As part of its work advising the nation on responding to COVID-19, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a public information-gathering session “COVID-19 Testing Strategies for Colleges and Universities (2020)” in November to foster dialogue among universities and colleges, and with other subject-matter experts and stakeholders.

Dr. David Hansen from Western’s Student Health Center was invited to participate in this event to discuss what is known to be effective with respect to testing strategies for colleges and universities, and how and why Western implemented its strategies around coronavirus safety on its campus. 

This session included sharing Western’s considerations for the accuracy of diagnostic tests used, cost effectiveness of tests, appropriate testing frequency and timeliness of test results. 

"One of the key aspects of our response that I was able to relate to the panel was the University's use of batch testing, which allowed for us to handle the financial load of administering more than 13,000 tests in the fall quarter alone," he said.

Hansen emphasized the important role the Student Health Center’s new electronic medical record system played in providing rapid mass testing of students, generating high quality data to guide decision making and responding quickly to positive tests to support isolation and quarantine efforts.

Although the discussion focused on testing strategies, the panel agreed that testing is only one component of a comprehensive mitigation plan which requires supportive and engaged leadership, coordination across key campus teams such as housing and facilities management, effective and directed messaging, partnership with the local public health department, mask wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing.

Other institutions that shared their data and testing procedures to the panel included Duke University, the University of Florida, the University of Arizona, and Tulane University.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 9:20am