Even in COVID-19 Hot Spots, Many Colleges Aren’t Aggressively Testing

A microbiologist preparing a coronavirus test.
Pennsylvania Department of Health

As universities across the country grapple with COVID-19 and ever-changing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the right way forward during the pandemic has proven to be a moving target.

Elissa Nadworny and Sean McMinn of NPR focus on coronavirus testing on campuses in a piece they prepared at npr.org/2020/10/06/919159473/even-in-covid-hot-spots-many-colleges-arent-aggressively-testing-students.

Nadworny visited Furman at the start of the semester and spoke to Ken Peterson, vice president for academic affairs and provost, about the need for surveillance testing. He said, “When you test negative, we think psychologically, you feel safer about your own health and well-being. So we actually think you’re less likely to mask up, you’re less likely to distance.”

Now, midway through fall semester with 20% mandatory surveillance testing in place at Furman, Peterson still maintains that students take more risks when they are presented with negative test results, but he hasn’t seen proof of that on campus. In correspondence to Nadworny, he wrote, “In my view, any such effect appears to be small and offset by our enhanced ability to stay ahead of [the] virus due to surveillance testing.”

Visit npr.org/2020/10/06/919159473/even-in-covid-hot-spots-many-colleges-arent-aggressively-testing-students for additional information and to listen to the full interview.

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