Boston University students who test positive for COVID-19 at a University testing site will be moved straight to isolation housing without first receiving a second test for confirmation, according Catherine Klapperich, director of BU’s COVID-19 program.
This contradicts a statement made by President Robert Brown July 17 in a letter sent to BU faculty and staff that stated positive results would be verified by retesting.
“We have discussed re testing in a number of contexts,” Klapperich wrote in an email. “At this time we will not be retesting positive results before contract tracing protocols begin. Our test is very accurate and we are very confident that a positive test is a true positive.”
Klapperich said in an interview that presenting evidence of a positive test from when an individual previously had the virus, but has since recovered from symptoms, allows BU Health Services to deem a positive result as non-contagious and waive the isolation requirement.
As of Tuesday, 11 positive, contagious people are in isolation until they are no longer contagious, according to the BU COVID-19 Testing Data Dashboard, which is updated daily to reflect the tests from the day prior. Those people have been transferred from their on-campus residence to University-provided isolation housing.
BU Spokesperson Colin Riley said those who have tested positive and are currently isolating will be tested again around 10 days after their positive test was administered.
“The same test process is being done and being passed over to the lab to find out that they’ve had negative tests after their isolation,” Riley said.
People who test positive and are in isolation are monitored by health care professionals and are provided with food, Riley said.
Klapperich said BU isn’t worried about any false positive tests because they are “a very rare occurrence in this kind of testing.”
Out of the total 6,462 tests taken since the pilot program began July 27 — which BU Today reported had zero positive tests — the dashboard shows 12 total positive cases have been detected as of Tuesday.
There have also been a total of 111 inconclusive tests — swabs that did not collect enough cells to be sure, according to the dashboard. Any inconclusive results require retesting within 24 hours.
One positive case has also been confirmed as non-contagious, meaning the individual has recovered from previous infection within the last 90 days.
People may still have COVID-19 ribonucleic acid in their immune system, Klapperich said, despite overcoming the virus weeks before. This results in a positive test but the person is not able to spread the virus and is not sick themselves, she said.
Shubhangi Verma, a graduate student in the College of Communication, took her first test at the Agganis Arena site Tuesday. She said this was her first time being tested for COVID-19.
“They guided us each step of the way,” Verma said. “I feel like once you get tested a couple of times you’ll just get the hang of it.”
Bhavin Shah, a graduate student in the Questrom School of Business, took his first test at Agganis Tuesday and said the experience went well.
“It was a smooth process,” Shah said. “You just scan your QR code, you show them that you’re all set with your survey for the morning. And then it’s just straight from three counters, collect your kit, get tested and just drop it off straight away.”
Shah also said he hasn’t been looking at the COVID-19 dashboard, but would consider doing so now that he’s been tested.