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Princeton sees highest positivity rate increase nearly a month into new testing protocol

<h5>Lewis Thomas Laboratory, where COVID-19 tests are processed on campus.</h5>
<h6>Daily Princetonian Staff / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Lewis Thomas Laboratory, where COVID-19 tests are processed on campus.
Daily Princetonian Staff / The Daily Princetonian

The number of positive COVID-19 cases detected within the asymptomatic testing protocol is on the rise. For the week ending on April 1, the percentage of positive COVID-19 test results among undergraduate students reached an all-time high of 9.41 percent. This is an increase of 6.99 percent over the prior week. Recently, the BA.2 omicron variant has gained prevalence in the United States as the dominant strain.

The past week also marked the highest recorded asymptomatic graduate student positivity rate of 2.95 percent. This is an increase of 1.94 percent over the previous week. Faculty and staff numbers remained relatively steady with a 1.74 percent positivity rate, which is an increase of 0.80 percent over the previous week. 


In the overall testing pool, the asymptomatic positivity rate was 4.43 percent for the past week, which is the highest rate recorded yet for the spring 2022 semester. This week was also the third highest positivity rate ever recorded, second only to the weeks ending Dec. 31 and Jan. 7 when the BA.1 omicron variant was spreading through the United States and most students were not on campus for winter recess.

On March 2, the University announced revised testing protocols and masking, permitting vaccinated members of the University community to reduce their testing frequency from weekly to monthly beginning on March 7. Additionally, the University announced the removal of the mask mandate for most University spaces after a negative test was received after spring break. The absolute number of positive tests reached an all-time high just ahead of the March 2 announcement with more than 867 undergraduate students testing positive in the three weeks leading up to the announcement and weekly positivity rates ranging between 4.89 percent and 5.58 percent.

Similar to asymptomatic testing, there was a sharp increase in positive test results in symptomatic testing. This week, 48 out of the 64 tests were positive, which represents a 700 percent increase over the prior week. In the prior week, only 6 symptomatic tests were positive.

Moreover, the number of positive tests in the symptomatic pool last week was greater than the number of positive tests processed for the prior three weeks combined (which had 44 positive tests, in total). 

According to the COVID-19 Dashboard weekly indicators, campus case severity is now listed as ‘mild,’ and Isolation Capacity is ‘challenged.’ Last week, the “maximum dorm occupancy rate” reached 100 percent.

The campus mitigation level remains at “baseline.” This metric reflects that the University has determined that vaccine and booster efficacy, essential services, and isolation capacity remain at levels that do not require a change to current testing or mitigation measures.


Madeleine LeBeau is a News Staff Writer for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at mlebeau@princeton.edu, on Instagram @madeleinelebeau, or on Twitter @MadeleineLeBeau. 

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