Two students check in to a temporary testing site by holding their I.D.s up to a plexiglass barrier, on the other side of which a volunteer checks them in.

How a Pioneering Covid Testing Lab Helped Keep Northeast Colleges Open

Melissa Korn of The Wall Street Journal wrote about how the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard processes 45,000 Covid-19 tests a day for more than 100 colleges, including Williams. You can read the full story on the Wall Street Journal website (note that you will need a paid subscription or sign up for a free 30-day trial to view the full story). Below is an excerpt.

 

Twice a week, students at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., go to a parking garage to blow their noses.

After clearing their nostrils, they douse their hands in sanitizer, then proceed to a tent where, under the watchful eyes of trained emergency medical technicians, they swab their nasal passages. Then they stick the swab into a vial, the vial into a box, sanitize their hands again, and head out.

Once the testing site closes each day, Rita Coppola-Wallace , Williams’s executive director of planning, design and construction, gathers the bounty—up to 1,100 test tubes—and loads them into a waiting car. The samples are whisked off to Cambridge, Mass., 150 miles away, and processed alongside tens of thousands of others overnight at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a biomedical and genomics research center.

A primary reason many colleges in Massachusetts, New York, Maine and Vermont have experienced few coronavirus outbreaks this fall has been frequent, widespread testing. At 108 colleges and universities, that testing is being done within a carefully orchestrated system run by the Broad Institute.

The testing, along with strict, state-level quarantine orders and low levels of community spread in the region, has helped keep infection rates at schools working with Broad below 0.2%.