The journey of a COVID-19 test at Johns Hopkins

The university has processed more than 200,000 PCR tests to date in its own in-house laboratory

With the cautious return of thousands of students to Johns Hopkins University this past semester, frequent COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic cases has served as an essential tool for keeping the campus community safe while allowing a limited number of in-person gatherings to take place.

Johns Hopkins University leaders set up a nimble but comprehensive testing operation, with nine sites across its campuses that funnel the tests to a central processing lab on the university's East Baltimore campus. To date, this system has processed more than 200,000 PCR tests, which are using saliva samples to detect COVID-19. All students, faculty, and staff spending time on campus have been required to take the tests each week—with undergraduates required to test as often as three times a week. In such a highly irregular year, the testing became an experience that felt routine.

"There were constant anecdotes of people showing immense appreciation for our testing staff,"ays Julie Cady-Reh, director of continuous improvement at Johns Hopkins, who has overseen the testing sites. "These displays of gratitude spoke volumes about how meaningful it was for everyone to have the in-person campus experience and emerge from isolation."

Follow the journey of a COVID-19 test at JHU from the campus to the lab below.