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Auburn University launches sentinel testing for COVID-19

A total of 21,315 tests were given in the weeks leading up to the fall semester, and there were 859 positive results.
A total of 21,315 tests were given in the weeks leading up to the fall semester, and there were 859 positive results.(WSFA)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 5:22 PM CDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - As Auburn University reported 600 new COVID-19 cases on campus last week, the university is also rolling out a new type of random testing to determine the prevalence of the virus across campus.

Now that entry testing has ended at the school, the university is launching a sentinel testing program, where they’ll test a random sample of people for COVID-19.

“In this case, about 2.5 to 3 percent of Auburn’s campus community are going to be randomly chosen,” said Dr. Fred Kam, the director of Auburn University’s medical clinic. “That’s going to include students, faculty, and staff.”

While only highly encouraged and not mandatory, according to the university’s website, this testing is an important part of their health and safety plan.

They say with this random testing, they hope to keep an eye on the asymptomatic infection rate in order to quickly respond to trends and numbers.

“If there are areas of concern, then we’re able to focus our resources,” Kam said.

The university said sampling for the program will take place each week, and those chosen to participate will receive an email with a survey and a list of appointment times.

Some students have varying responses on whether they’ll participate if they are chosen in the future.

“I don’t know how inclined I would be to do it,” said Rachel Liles, a student who has already had COVID-19.

Others said they would have no problem getting tested.

“I have nothing to hide, so I would go participate,” Sam Tankersley said. "I’d do it. "

Julia Stone agreed.

“I would probably get tested if I had the time,” she said.

One sophomore said he’s fine getting with the sentinel testing program.

“If they ask me to get tested, I’ll get tested,” Jim Class said.

The testing takes place at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, not at the university’s medical clinic. According to Auburn University, the program is scheduled to last through the end of the semester.

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