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AF Academy's random testing program passes 3,500 tests, key to keeping COVID-19 numbers well below 1%

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. – The Air Force Academy continues to randomly select and test approximately 750 cadets, faculty and staff members for COVID-19 per week, which has proven vital in helping keep positive cases well below 1% of cadets.  

The testing program has just passed 3,500 tests, and began in early summer, as Academy leadership looked to bring back cadets in phases in the most safe and healthy manner in alignment with county, state and national medical guidance.

Random testing, along with mask wear, social distancing, 50% online and 50% in person classes and classroom Plexiglass were all part of the Academy’s detailed planning to resume classes on August 12.

Academy officials view random testing as an effective tool in controlling the spread of the virus, since 80-90% of people in the cadets’ age group who are positive are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. Identifying COVID-19 in those who do not know they are positive has contributed to keeping positive cases at the Academy very low.

Proactive testing allows medical professionals to identify positive cases quickly, and contact tracing and periodic surveillance testing will keep us informed moving forward. The Academy’s Pandemic Math Team, a cross-functional team of experts in biology, engineering, and other disciplines, uses computer modeling to provide leaders with updated information. The models are used to inform determinations on cadet liberties, amount of testing required, and other leadership decision points related to COVID-19.