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Penn State Updates Coronavirus Testing Terminology

Penn State is revamping its coronavirus testing terminology to more clearly reflect the populations being tested, the university announced in a release Friday.

From now on, Penn State will refer to “asymptomatic testing” as “random screening.” This category of testing will include results from random surveillance testing, Penn State Athletics testing, and targeted testing through “pop-up facilities,” similar to those set up following gatherings at off-campus fraternities or outside East Halls.

Additionally, Penn State will rename “symptomatic testing” to “on-demand testing.” The university made the change to clear up confusion and reiterate that not all on-demand testing is administered to symptomatic students.

“The on-demand group includes test results from students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as well as asymptomatic individuals who are concerned about a possible exposure,” Dr. Robin Oliver-Veronesi, senior director of University Health Services (UHS), said. “For those experiencing symptoms, we are seeing them mostly limited to mild to moderate symptoms such as a low-grade fever, cough, and muscle aches.”

Penn State said results from on-demand testing are sent directly to the Department of Health from UHS and reported in the ZIP code where individuals currently reside.

In its release, Penn State also announced it will begin randomly screening employees on Tuesday, September 8. Although some employees underwent volunteer testing already, they’ll now be factored into Penn State’s daily testing of at least 1% of its population.

To date, Penn State has reported 215 total cases at University Park since testing began on August 7. A total of 174 students tested positive for the virus since August 28.

Penn State President Eric Barron said the university is concerned by the rising case numbers. He implored students, faculty, and staff to take action now to prevent possible “migration steps,” including potentially reverting to remote learning.

“We know the virus is here, and I am of course concerned by the numbers and trends we are seeing,” Barron said. “Our ability to manage transmission and rate of growth of positive cases is critically important. Next week, we will assess data following the holiday weekend, and determine whether we need to take mitigation steps at University Park including temporary or sustained remote learning.”

To learn more about how Penn State reports its testing figures, check out the YouTube video below.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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