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Update to COVID-19 Test Results Reporting

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 19, 2021

Dear WPI Community,

We want to alert you to a change in our COVID-19 testing program reporting, which was noted last week on WPI’s COVID-19 Dashboard but bears clarifying here, in part because a new category of results may be causing confusion.    

Last week, the Broad Institute, which manages our testing program, let us know that it began using a new and slightly more sensitive (and more scalable) testing process in late January. In consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Broad Institute updated the standards by which positive test results are interpreted. A small number of WPI’s test results that were previously reported as “positive” were updated to reflect “inconclusive.” Our Health Team contacted the affected members of our community, and we updated our dashboard.

There are now five possible categories you may see in your COVID-19 test results, described in the table below.

Current Result Categories (as of February 17, 2020)

Results Category 

What Does it Mean? 

Positive  

A person who tests positive for COVID will be contacted by the Health Team, who will provide further guidance and next steps

Inconclusive 

An inconclusive test is neither positive nor negative.  It means a very small amount of COVID RNA was detected on one of the two probes of the test. Anyone who receives an inconclusive test result will be contacted by the Health Team for an immediate follow-up test and will be asked to isolate while awaiting results. 

Invalid  

This means there was no human or viral genetic material detected on the test swab.  Anyone with an invalid result will receive an email from the testing coordinator and will be asked to retest as soon as possible. 

Test Not Performed (TNP) 

There are many reasons for TNP including, among others:

  • There was too much mucus on the swab or the mucus was too thick. Blow your nose well when doing your next test;
  • The bar code was ripped or damaged. Be sure you don't rip it when taking it out of the machine;
  • Swab was placed in the vial upside down. Always put the swab with the cotton tip facing down and the handle facing up;

Anyone receiving a TNP result will receive an email from the testing coordinator and will be asked to retest as soon as possible.

Negative 

This means you have tested negative for COVID. Keep up your normal testing schedule and continue to wear your mask, practice social distancing, and limit your close contacts.

 

If you have any questions about your test results, please email the Testing Coordinator (testingcoordinator@wpi.edu).