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Texas A&M: First round of random COVID-19 student testing produced 94 positives

Texas A&M: First round of random COVID-19 student testing produced 94 positives

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Texas A&M University released results of the first round of its random COVID-19 testing program Thursday, and it announced that 94 — or 3.2% — of 2,868 students tested positive for the coronavirus through the initiative during the first week of school, which ended Aug. 29.

According to an article from Texas A&M Today, 6,236 A&M students were invited to participate via email after the program was announced near the start of the fall semester. The second round of random testing is underway now, the article states.

“To date there have been only three identified clusters, all of which are resolved, and quarantine completed,” the article reads. The Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Delta Delta clusters were reported Aug. 20, and the Corps of Cadets Squadron-17 cluster was reported by A&M through the Clery Act on Sept. 2.

In all, between early August and Sept. 14, 1,289 individuals at Texas A&M tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Texas A&M’s COVID-19 online dashboard. The weekly numbers peaked the week of Aug. 22, with 371 cases reported that week, and have since declined. There were 202 positive tests reported out of 2,500 tests administered the week of Sept. 12. 

As part of the random testing program, the A&M post indicated, members of the student body who are invited to take part submit an online pre-screening questionnaire. Students eligible for the program complete an online questionnaire and schedule a cheek swab-based COVID-19 test.

According to A&M, the data also helps the team understand which students might benefit from expanded communications on awareness of COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.

“The results are being used in several ways to understand and monitor the dynamic nature of SARS-CoV-2 among the student body of Texas A&M,” the article reads. “Test results are combined with questionnaire responses and used by our team of epidemiologists and biostatisticians to learn where the virus is located in our student community, both on and off campus, understand factors that facilitate transmission among students, and locate geographic patterns of COVID-19.”

In a press release, A&M Provost Carol A. Fierke thanked students for their participation in the program. Currently, the testing program applies only to students, not faculty and staff.

“I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to students for participating in the program. We all want to continue in-person classes and other campus activities and we are doing all we can to mitigate spread to make that possible,” Fierke said. “In fact, round two early results, which will be reported next week, are looking even better than round one, thanks to our campus community pulling together to mitigate hot spots, take a COVID-19 test, self-quarantine as needed, wear face coverings and practice physical distancing. Thank you for your selfless service in helping to keep our community safe. We welcome all students to come to class on-campus.” 

Results for all testing, including the Random Testing Program, will be posted on the Texas A&M COVID-19 Dashboard.

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