A Message from the President – COVID-19 Testing Update

August 28, 2020

Dear Tulane Community:

We are now in our second week of classes and nearly a month into our return to campus. Our testing, contact tracing and isolation/quarantine program – which is one of the most, if not the most, robust in the nation – continues to identify positive cases (nearly all of whom are asymptomatic) as well as close contacts within our community. We will likely have more positive cases going forward, which we had anticipated and planned for in developing our guidelines. Our testing process is working exactly as we had hoped, and by following our protocols we will continue to take the necessary steps to protect our community even as the number of positive cases varies across time.

As you have likely noticed, we are continuing to adjust and refine our program – including aspects such as testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine – as we actively monitor and  respond to changing circumstances and needs. As one example, we recently implemented weekly testing of all undergraduates in addition to no less than monthly testing for grad students and employees. This provides us with ability to rapidly identify positive cases in a large and active segment of our community and implement contact tracing and isolation measures (as necessary and appropriate) to protect our community. As announced in an email earlier today, test numbers, positive cases and positivity percentages are reported on the Return to Campus website, where a reporting dashboard will be added soon.
Besides limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our academic community, Tulane’s testing program also supports the New Orleans community – including the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center,  Orleans Parish Prison, and a local mental health care facility. Additionally, as announced today by New Orleans Public Schools, we’re developing an asymptomatic testing program to deliver ongoing screening for public school teachers and school-based staff. Screening these populations, in addition to our more than 4,000 employees, almost all of whom are from the New Orleans Metropolitan Area as are many of our students, helps to make NOLA safer for everyone.

Michael A. Fitts, President
Patrick Norton, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Robin Forman, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost