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Four of 4,477 tests come back positive in U.’s first week of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing

covid testing site
A COVID-19 testing site during the University’s first week of asymptomatic testing in August 2020.
Courtesy of Denise Applewhite / Princeton University Office of Communications

Four University employees have tested positive for COVID-19 this week, out of 4,477 tests administered by University Health Services (UHS).

The other 4,473 tests administered came back negative, and no students tested positive.


On Wednesday, the University announced the results of its first week of asymptomatic testing on campus, which concluded last Friday with over 4,000 University students and employees tested. The University is requiring all community members physically on campus for at least eight hours weekly to participate on-campus testing, which currently takes place at the Princeton University stadium concourse near Powers Field.

According to the announcement, the four staff members who tested positive remain in isolation and will be paid during their isolation period, and the University’s Global and Community Health (GCH) team “conducted the contact tracing necessary to rapidly quarantine those persons considered to be close contacts of the positive cases.” 

“No students and fewer than 10 employees are quarantining as a result of contact tracing for the four positive tests,” according to University Deputy Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss.

In an interview with the Office of Communications, UHS Director of Medical Services Melissa Marks referred to the results — and positivity rate of 0.09 percent — as “very encouraging for the start of the semester.”

“The four positive cases found were not in close contact with one another and so this very small positivity rate does not reflect a cluster — an important public health consideration,” she added.

During this first week, UHS administered saliva tests. According to Hilcia Acevedo ’23, a student living on campus, the process is to “show up to the football stadium, stand in line, scan [a] testing kit, and spit into a tube.”


Starting next week, a small number of individuals will begin self-administered testing.

“Gradually all testing will be self-collected,” according to the announcement.

The University also tracks testing for members of the University community who are tested outside of the University protocol. UHS is aware of one student living off-campus who received a positive test result between Aug. 24 and 30, as well as three students tested outside of the protocol awaiting results and five who received negative test results. Four University employees who tested outside of the University protocol tested negative.

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