Emerson reverts to individual testing model

Emersons+testing+site+at+Tufts+Medical+Center.

Photo: Hongyu Liu

Emerson’s testing site at Tufts Medical Center.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

Emerson pivoted back to individual PCR tests on Tuesday with just two days left in the fall semester, as positive COVID-19 cases surge both on-campus and nationwide. 

The last-minute decision shifts the college away from the pooled testing system implemented last month—meaning that instead of testing grouped samples, individual samples will be collected and tested. 

Under the pooled testing model, individuals receiving “inconclusive” results must retest individually within 24 hours to determine if they have COVID-19. Conversely, under the individual PCR testing model, individual samples are tested directly, and a “positive” result indicates the presence of the virus. 

The decision to change the testing model comes in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Across the first two days of testing this week, Emerson has reported a total of 34 positive COVID-19 tests, the highest number reported in any week of testing. 

The high number of positives reflects a statewide trend, with Massachusetts reporting a total of 4,039 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday—and the state’s seven-day average sitting at 4,428. 

The positives reported by Emerson Wednesday mirror a similar phenomenon to the close of the fall semester, when during the week of Nov. 22, 2020, Emerson reported 16 new positive COVID-19 tests, at the time the highest weekly figure over the course of the fall semester.