Traverse City News and Events

780 Tests Administered At Central High Drive-Thru; 42 Positives, More Results Pending

By Beth Milligan | April 6, 2021

A total of 780 COVID-19 tests were administered at a drive-thru event Monday at Traverse City Central High School, with over 1,000 people showing up in an attempt to get tested. At least 42 positive cases were identified at the event, with a significant number of test results still pending.

Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) Superintendent Dr. John VanWagoner told school board members Tuesday that an estimated 110 tests were administered per hour at the drive-thru, with cars backing up in long lines wrapping around Central High on Eastern Avenue and Milliken Drive. Contractors administered 662 antigen - or rapid result - tests, which typically deliver results within 15-30 minutes. Of those tests, 620 came back negative and 42 came back positive. In addition, 118 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were administered at the site, which are considered the gold standard for accuracy but typically require a few days to process. VanWagoner noted that some drive-thru participants received PCR tests because they were already symptomatic at testing.

Because the drive-thru was open to the community, it is unknown how many of the positive cases are specifically tied to TCAPS families. However, VanWagoner said he was aware that many families had traveled during spring break. The superintendent told school board members that in the weeks just prior to spring break, over 1,000 students in the TCAPS system were quarantining because of COVID-19 exposure, with the majority - 825 - occurring at the secondary level. An estimated 21 percent of the student population was absent at Central High School at one point, VanWagoner said.

For those reasons and because of the Grand Traverse County Health Department directive this week instructing all county middle and high schools to move to virtual instruction, TCAPS board members voted Tuesday to affirm the decision to close TCAPS secondary schools for in-person learning through the end of the week. District leaders will reconvene with health officials Friday to evaluate learning plans for the following week.

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