Purdue reduces surveillance testing, wary of increase in Tippecanoe County rates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue has announced a pause of weekly surveillance testing of 5,000 faculty, staff and students, which in all likelihood, will result in an increase of the reported COVID-19 percentage positivity rate at the university and in Tippecanoe County.

The pause in surveillance testing allows the Protect Purdue Health Center to make additional daily testing capacity available to all students and employees in anticipation of the need for end-of-semester and holiday departure tests for tens of thousands of students over the next weeks.

When surveillance testing numbers cease, testing for the university and Tippecanoe County will concentrate on symptomatic patients and those who have been identified as close contacts of those who have tested positive. This shift in testing, without Purdue’s surveillance testing numbers, is expected to result in an increase in the reported COVID-19 percent positivity rate by approximately 2%-4%.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to keep our campus stable when it comes to COVID-19 spread, and over the past weeks of contact tracing, we know most of our increased positives come from community events and interactions,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer of the Protect Purdue Health Center. “I do not want anyone on campus or in the surrounding Tippecanoe County area to see a spike in our positivity rate and attribute it to increased spread at Purdue when it is basically the opposite — the subtraction of thousands of randomly selected individuals who overwhelmingly test negative from the overall testing pool.”

Ramirez said that for those faculty, staff and students who need or desire a COVID-19 test, the Protect Purdue Health Center will offer expanded capacity for testing at Turf Recreation Exercise Center (TREC) beginning Saturday (Nov. 14). Results typically are returned within approximately 48-72 hours. A testing appointment for departure testing at TREC can be made online here.