Important: New COVID Test Result Type

February 16, 2021

Dear Members of the Yale Community,

Our primary COVID-19 testing lab, The Broad Institute, has recently made a change in the COVID-19 test that we have been collecting on campus. I want to update you on what this change means.

Current test result types

Until now, those who have tested have received the following result types through MyChart: positive, negative, TNP or invalid.

  • TNP (test not performed): the sample could not be processed for technical reasons, most often because too much mucous was on the swab. This is why it is so important to blow your nose before coming to the test site.
  • Invalid: no genetic material was detected on the swab, typically as a result of not swabbing firmly enough.

Voluntary or weekly testers who receive a TNP or Invalid result should repeat their test; twice weekly testers who are not experiencing symptoms may maintain their testing schedule.

New test result type

The new Broad test looks for two distinct locations, or targets, on the virus; until now the test had just one target. Adding the second target increases the ability of the test to detect infection. When both of these locations are identified the test is read as positive. However, when one of the 2 targets is positive and the other is negative, the result will be called INCONCLUSIVE. Inconclusive results are neither positive nor negative and require additional testing. They may happen in the following circumstances:

  • Very early infection.
  • Very late infection.
  • Infection with a variant (unlikely, the lab will be monitoring for this).
  • Contamination from a surface or a lab environment (very uncommon).

How we will manage inconclusive results

In order to best maintain individual and community health, we will treat an inconclusive test result as a presumptive positive until repeat testing either confirms the positive, or is negative. You should self-isolate until you hear from the resulting team. Here are the details:

  • Undergraduates living on campus: You will be called by the resulting team and moved to isolation housing for follow-up testing.
  • Others eligible for isolation housing (off campus undergraduates and graduate/professional students): We continue to strongly encourage you to move to isolation housing (Bingham) and have follow-up testing there.
  • Employees, other Yale community members, and students who do not move to isolation housing: You will isolate at home until repeat testing is done. We will assist in scheduling a follow-up test for you at our symptomatic test site, 109 Grove (the entrance for this testing site is on Temple Street).

Follow-up test results

  • If the follow-up test is positive, you will complete 10 days of isolation.
  • If the follow-up test is negative, you will be released by our Care Management Team. (If you were in contact quarantine at the time of your inconclusive test, you will still complete your 10-day quarantine period.)
  • If the follow-up test is negative and you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Yale Health will manage your case individually.

You do not need to remember all of this! As with each positive result, for each inconclusive result, our Resulting Team will call to guide you on next steps. You will also be called by our Contact Tracing Team, and monitored by our Care Management team.

If you have questions, you can always direct them to our crack team at the Campus COVID Resource Line, 203-432-6604.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to a Healthy Yale!

Madeline S. Wilson, M.D., F.AC.P.
Chief Quality Officer
Chair, Yale COVID Testing and Tracing Committee
Yale Health Center