With just a few days left before our shift to remote learning, UMPI is again in an exceptional situation. We’ve learned that our first known case of COVID-19 has been declared a false positive. Our testing provider made the highly unusual move of reversing the positive test result based on follow-up testing. The Vault PCR test we use, which has the best accuracy and lowest false result rates of the types of tests currently available, has a 1% false positive rate nationally.
This means a few important things for our campus. First and foremost, it means that Maine public health authorities have received this updated result and that, in conjunction with the Maine CDC, the UMPI employee involved and those who were identified as close contacts through contact tracing have been released from quarantine/isolation. We’d like to thank everyone involved for their patience and understanding as we followed our contact tracing procedures. That work was done in consultation with public health officials and based on the positive test result we had at the time. We all would have preferred a situation in which no one had entered quarantine/isolation, but we are grateful that this officially confirmed false positive result allowed individuals to return to their normal routines and participate more fully in these final in-person days on campus.
This also means that UMPI officially has had no (0) positive cases of COVID-19 to date, which will be reflected in the University of Maine System’s next Together For Maine daily update. I attribute this statistic–no positive cases to date–to the diligence and ethic of care that members of our campus community have demonstrated during the past weeks and months. My special thanks to everyone for this– as our news feed is only too full in these past 48 hours of higher education institutions having to deal with outbreaks and closures. Your diligence truly makes UMPI a safer place.
Finally, this means that our contingency plans worked as intended–an incredibly important reassurance to have during a very uncertain time. The Maine public health officials we partner with on this effort noted that our initial response to the situation was immediate, remarkably efficient, and incredibly thorough. So my thanks to everyone involved–from Emergency Response to Facilities to Student Affairs–for the absolutely perfect response throughout this process. And my further thanks to everyone who is working hard to keep each other safe these last few days on campus together, especially those involved in this final round of tests before departures. All of your efforts–from hand-washing to mask-wearing to social distancing–are so appreciated and prepare us for a great start of the Spring semester in January