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Vassar College President Talks About Opening Colleges Safely During COVID-19

Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley
Courtesy of Vassar College
Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley

There is new research just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Open Network about the safety of reopening colleges during COVID-19. Vassar College President Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, who is also a global health expert, wrote an opening editorial to the study. She spoke with WAMC’s Allison Dunne, who is based at WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau at Vassar.

Bradley, founder of the Yale Global Health Leadership Institute, took the helm at Poughkeepsie-based Vassar College in 2017. Prior to her work at Yale, Bradley was an administrator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The Yale School of Public Health led the study published in JAMA Open Network. Two of the study’s findings surprised investigators. One is that it is possible to screen for COVID-19 too frequently, overwhelming isolation facilities with false positive results, generating unnecessary expenditures, fueling anxiety, and undermining confidence in the ability of the university to keep its students safe. This is according to senior study author Rochelle Walensky, who is chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases and professor at Harvard Medical School. Second, the frequency of screening is more important than the accuracy of the test. Testing every two days, say the study’s authors, even with a low-quality test will avert more infections than weekly testing with a higher-quality alternative. Bradley talks about her published commentary on the study.

Dr. Elizabeth Bradley is president of Vassar College and a global health expert. A link to her editorial in JAMA can be found here.

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