UPDATE: Penn State’s New COVID-19 Dashboard Reports Two Positives On University Park Campus

Aug 21, 2020

Updated: Monday, August 24 at 2:20 p.m.

Penn State is reporting two students on the University Park campus have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the university’s new COVID-19 Dashboard Friday.

The university has performed 520 tests on students and 95 tests on employees since Aug. 9, according to the dashboard. These numbers combined random surveillance tests and symptomatic tests. 

Two symptomatic tests and 198 surveillance tests from students are still pending results. Five out of 11 surveillance tests from employees came back negative, while the remaining six are awaiting results.

Currently, there is one student and one employee in isolation. 

Penn State said the dashboard includes data “from symptomatic testing on campus, results of student-athletes tested through Intercollegiate Athletics and test results from private health care providers that are reported to University Health Services or Occupational Medicine.” Pre-arrival testing results are not included in the dashboard, since they were not conducted on campus. 

On Friday, Penn State announced pre-arrival testing has yielded 148 positive COVID-19 tests so far from 17,042 students who’ve submitted them. Around 5,000 more are pending. Students from areas with high prevalence of coronavirus were required to conduct saliva tests before returning to campus. 

Penn State said those who test positive must self-isolate for 10 days and be cleared by a health professional before returning to campus. The university says those who were selected to take the test may have their registration canceled if they don’t submit them by the end of the week. Penn State did not report numbers of faculty and staff who tested positive in the pre-arrival testing.  

The university plans to update the dashboard every Friday and will begin surveillance testing on Aug. 24, the first day of fall classes. It warns the data for the first week will be limited.

In a July virtual town hall, Penn State said it plans to conduct asymptomatic tests of at least 1% of its population of students, faculty and staff on all campuses daily. And students who are returning to campus for the fall semester have been asked to conduct pre-arrival tests before they come back. 

After a large gathering of mostly unmasked students outside of campus dorms Wednesday night, Penn State President Eric Barron warned students to meet the university’s safety requirements, saying, “if the University needs to pivot to fully remote instruction we will.”

The university said its “multi-layered testing, monitoring, and mitigating approach” will keep on-campus learning possible. “But make no mistake, it only takes a few to ruin it for the many, as we have seen at other universities across the country,” Barron said. 

Update: This story is edited to say that Penn State plans to update its dashboard every Friday. The university originally said it would be on Mondays.