Developments in Pooled Testing Narrow Down Positive Cases 

RNA scientists analyzing saliva samples as part of the pooled surveillance testing program. Photo by Patrick Dodson. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 28, 2020) — Developments by the RNA Institute have enabled the pooled testing program to isolate individual samples out of the pools being tested – ensuring that only potentially contagious people are referred for diagnostic PCR testing and transferred to isolation housing. This means that no longer will any person who is not presumed positive for COVID-19 (even if they are part of a positive pool) have to be placed into isolation housing or be referred for additional diagnostic testing.

Previously, the program could identify which pools were positive, but not which individual sample within the pool was presumed positive – requiring that all individuals in a pool be referred to diagnostic testing and placed in isolation housing. Now, though multiple tests can still be combined in a pool to ensure efficiency, the testing drills down within a pool to the one (or more) presumptive-positive person(s).

If you are identified as a presumptive COVID-19 positive individual, an authorized University employee will contact you with instructions to obtain official diagnostic testing. Students who live on-campus students will be transported to isolation housing. Students who live off-campus will be instructed on how to isolate in their current housing, if possible.

To better understand the University’s protocol for isolation and quarantine, including the difference between the two, visit the COVID-19 website. In short, quarantine is the restriction of movement of people who may have been exposed to a known positive case, whereas isolation is for a person who has tested positive for the virus.

Until results of the PCR diagnostic testing are available, individuals whose saliva samples are presumed positive are considered “persons under investigation.” Persons under investigation must upload the result of their diagnostic testing -- whether positive or negative -- to the student portal.

Reporting Results

Any student who receives a positive diagnostic test result, regardless of where or why they get tested (ex. If you feel ill and independently decide to obtain testing off-campus), must upload the positive test documentation to the student portal and then email [email protected]. Employees who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive test result must contact UAlbany’s Medical Reporting Hotline at 518-442-1501. All results remain confidential.

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