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Charting out COVID-19 cases and tests

Glasss door with sign "Face covering required inside McCosh health center" with metal box with words "Drop Specimen Here" inside.
With no mandated weekly testing, the COVID-19 PCR test drop boxes have turned from a campus staple to a remnant of times past.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

From August 2020 to July 2022, Princeton’s COVID policy required all persons affiliated with the University to submit weekly asymptomatic test samples. Since Aug. 24, 2020, a total of 8,595 positive COVID cases have been reported through Princeton’s testing protocol. 

As University policies concerning social distancing and in-person learning have evolved, the number of positive cases among undergraduate students has fluctuated yearly. From Feb. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, there were 287 positive cases among undergraduate students reported through the testing protocol. From Jan. 1 to Dec. 23, 2022, there were 711 positive cases reported. Only 39 cases (about 0.7 percent of the undergraduate student population) have been reported between Jan. 4 to March 9, 2023. 


COVID cases on campus were relatively low on campus throughout 2020, when undergraduates were mostly off-campus, but also until November in 2021, despite high COVID cases nationwide. Starting November 2021, there was a sharp rise in cases, persisting throughout the winter. Tests were also only processed on weekdays, which explains the decreases in the number of positive cases on weekends.

Daily Number of Positive Cases

A total of 5,974 positive cases were reported between Feb. 1, 2021 and March 9, 2023. Of these cases, 2,533 cases were of the undergraduate student population; 887 cases were of the graduate student population; and 2,557 cases were of staff, faculty, and others.

The total number of positive cases peaked on Jan. 4, 2022, with 181 positive cases reported, and on Feb. 28, 2022, with 118 positive cases reported. In Jan. 2022, the Omicron variant was hitting Princeton. The University also announced that week that its NCAA basketball games would be postponed due to concerns regarding COVID. 


Weekly Asymptomatic vs Symptomatic Positive Cases

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Until Sept. 2022, cases were generally found through the asymptomatic testing protocol, in which students tested once or twice a week, then once a month in the final months of the 2021-2022 school year. After mandatory testing was eliminated in Fall 2022, symptomatic cases outnumbered asymptomatic cases and have generally done so since.

Number of Weekly Tests​​ 

As the pandemic wanes, people are testing  —  and testing positive — less. 179,287 undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other people affiliated with the University tested for COVID in 2021 — meaning about 3,447 tests were conducted per week. 514,762 people tested for COVID in 2022 — averaging about 9,899 tests per week. On the other hand, about 1,931 people tested for COVID over the week of Feb. 27, 2023.

Grace Kim is a contributor for the Data section at the ‘Prince.’

Suthi Navaratnam-Tomayko is an assistant editor for the Data section at the ‘Prince.’

Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]