Screening Programs for SARS-CoV-2 Infections on a University Campus — Austin, Texas, September 30–November 30, 2020
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Screening Programs for SARS-CoV-2 Infections on a University Campus — Austin, Texas, September 30–November 30, 2020

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep
    • Description:
      Colleges and universities in the United States have relied on various measures during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including implementing testing programs (1-3). These programs have permitted a safer return to campus for students by identifying infected persons and temporarily isolating them from the campus population (2,3). The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) implemented COVID-19 prevention measures in Fall 2020* including the following testing programs: clinic-based diagnostic testing, voluntary community screening, and targeted screening (testing of specific student populations in situations of increased transmission risk). During September 30-November 30, 2020, UT Austin students participated in tests for SARS-CoV-2, which resulted in the detection of 401 unique student cases of COVID-19 from among 32,401 tests conducted.| Among students who participated in one targeted screening program for students attending campus events, 18 (37.5%) of 48 infected students were asymptomatic at the time of their positive test result compared with 45 (23%) of 195 students identified through community testing and nine (5.8%) of 158 students identified through clinic-based testing. Targeted screening also identified a different population of students than did clinic-based and community testing programs. Infected students tested through targeted screening were more likely to be non-Hispanic White persons (chi square = 20.42; p<0.03), less likely to engage in public health measures, and more likely to have had interactions in settings where the risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission is higher, such as restaurants, gyms, and residence halls. In addition to clinic-based SARS-CoV-2 testing at colleges and universities, complementary testing programs such as community and targeted screening might enhance efforts to identify and control SARS-CoV-2 transmission, especially among asymptomatic persons and disproportionately affected populations that might not otherwise be reached.
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