Test to Protect is “assurance testing” that helps schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, and businesses to resume in-person activities with greater assurance and minimize transmission risk. This testing strategy helps contain transmission and reduce uncontrolled outbreaks through early detection of cases in selected settings because 40% of infected persons are asymptomatic.
Testing is recommended to be done at regular intervals, such as every two weeks, once a week, or twice a week using “do-it-yourself” kits and self-swabbing. When used along with other strategies such as masking, social distancing, handwashing, and environmental sanitation, assurance testing is an additional tool that can be used to fight the pandemic.
At present, there is ample evidence that assurance testing is beneficial, based on the experience of colleges and universities across the country that have been able to remain open by using this method. Pilot projects in Shelby County with private and charter schools have also been successful in locally. Our goal is to test a large part of our workforce regularly, up to 30,000 tests per day.
What is Pool Testing?
Individual Pool Testing
Individual swabs are pooled in the lab to obtain positive and negative results. Pooling can be done in a ratio of 5 to one or 20 to one.
Pod-Based Pool Testing
A pod or group, such as a classroom or a restaurant of 20 persons or less, is swabbed at the site and placed in one test tube. The advantage of pod swab testing is that it dramatically reduces the costs of negative tests. Negative tests are often the case when regular asymptomatic testing is done. For pod pooling to be effective, the positive rate in the asymptomatic population needs to such below 1%. The turn around time for negative results in assurance testing is within 24 hours.