Objective: This study shares lessons learned in investigating 113 positive COVID-19 cases and tracing over 1,000 close contacts at a small state university in Central Pennsylvania.
Methods and Materials: Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from asymptomatic COVID-19 students, faculty, and staff entering and exiting fall 2020 semester for PCR analysis. Bi-weekly, randomized, asymptomatic testing was conducted throughout the semester. Positive cases were immediately assigned to tracers and isolated within 15 minutes of receiving test results. Cases were asked to quarantine immediately. Additional descriptive factors were collected such as number of contacts and symptoms per case.
Results: The most significant super spreader consisted of two cases that produced 53 positive cases. Only 59% of the 113 positive cases reported symptoms during the fall semester of 2020. Positivity rate of asymptomatic testing was 1.1% and symptomatic testing was 32.9%. Face-to-Face (F2F) classes were 15% of the fall 2020 instruction modality.
The positivity rate for fall 2020 instruction and limited collegiate sporting activities was 4.9%.
Conclusion: Universal, random and targeted COVID-19 testing, immediate case investigation and contact tracing, diligent adherence to CDC safety guidelines was effective in interrupting and mitigating COVID-19 transmission on a university campus.
Policy Implications: Rapid response contact tracing is essential for the mitigation of COVID-19.
Keywords: Asymptomatic testing; Athletic programs; Contact tracing; COVID-19; Mitigation; SARS-CoV-2