August 28, 2020
Dear Tulane Community:
Last week, we announced the final numbers from our COVID-19 return screening program: from July 27 through August 18, we administered 12,051 tests and identified 82 positive cases (47 positives from our testing centers and 35 from outside testing), indicating a positive testing rate of .68 percent.
Since last week (August 19-26)*, Campus Health has administered 2,470 screening tests** for students, faculty and staff from which 73 positive cases have been identified, representing a 2.9 percent testing positivity rate. The current 7-day average positivity rate for New Orleans is 1.9 percent, Louisiana 4.9 percent.
Since the testing program was launched, Tulane has conducted 14,521 screening tests and identified 155 positive cases in our community, representing a 1.06 percent testing positivity rate.
Of the 155 cumulative positive cases, 86 cases remain active — meaning they have not yet completed their isolation period. Of the 86 cases, 84 are students and 2 are employees.
Of the 84 active positive student cases, 59 students are isolating on campus in Paterson Hall with attending medical staff – these individuals are either asymptomatic or are experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms. Paterson Hall has a capacity of 110 and has 46 percent availability remaining.***
There are currently 224 quarantining students who are close contacts with someone who has tested positive. Of these students, who have not tested positive but who have been identified as close contacts with someone who has tested positive, 76 are quarantining in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in a separate tower from other guests. This quarantine space has a capacity of 500 and has 85 percent availability.
Last week, we announced expansion of Tulane’s COVID-19 Testing Program to include weekly screening for undergraduate students, in addition to monthly testing for grad students and employees. This will give us the ability to rapidly identify positive cases in a large and active segment of our community. We have made significant headway since we announced our plan last week. Please be patient as we increase capacity to expand this part of our program in the coming week.
The purpose of Tulane’s comprehensive and ongoing testing program is to swiftly identify and isolate all positive individuals — including those who are asymptomatic — in order to contain the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Louisiana Department of Health guidelines call for a symptom-based strategy for releasing individuals from isolation (those who have tested positive for COVID-19) and quarantine (those who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive). Tulane is following these guidelines.
Isolation can end 10 days following the first positive test if the positive individual has been symptom free, without medication, for 24 hours. A close contact is required to quarantine for 14 days and to monitor symptoms over that period. Testing will not allow for an earlier release. However, when testing is conducted for a quarantined close contact, it cannot be done less than 5 days after exposure. A negative test result during quarantine does not change or reduce the quarantine period, per current guidelines.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we must remain vigilant and adhere to all health safety protocols. Tulane's testing program is only one part of the university's comprehensive plan, which also includes daily symptom tracking, mandatory face coverings, social distancing and personal hygiene. In addition, Tulane has issued strict guidelines prohibiting large parties or gatherings of students on or off campus. Tulane students, faculty and staff must undergo training and agree to follow all safety protocols both on and off campus. Every student, faculty and staff member who will be part of the Tulane community this fall will share in the responsibility to comply with the policies and procedures that have been put in place.
Test numbers, positive cases and positivity percentages will be reported and posted weekly on the Return to Campus website. Besides promoting a safe return to on-campus learning, living and working, Tulane's COVID-19 testing program is benefiting members of the New Orleans community in many ways.
As the city's largest private employer, Tulane will be providing screening for thousands of local students and employees, including contract workers and vendors, through a free, robust testing and contact tracing program. This will serve as a valuable addition to the city's COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts.
*Data as of 8/26/2020 11:00 p.m.
**Tulane Testing Centers were closed on Monday, August 24 for Tropical Storm Marco.
*** The university has access to additional space, if needed.