The monumental effort to scale up campus COVID-19 testing

Key facts and figures point to the scale of the Penn Cares testing program and how Project Quaker helped bring students back to campus this spring.

people in a large outdoor tent standing on marked circles and walking to tables staffed by people wearing surgical gowns
As of mid-March, more than 140,000 saliva-based tests for COVID-19 have been conducted since the start of the spring semester Penn Cares testing program.

A major component of Penn’s efforts to bring students back to campus this spring has been the Penn Cares testing program. Using a saliva-based testing platform, Penn can conduct twice-weekly tests for all undergraduate students and those living on campus and weekly tests for graduate students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who are on campus for four or more hours each week.

Launching this massive new COVID-19 screening program was made possible through a partnership between Penn Medicine, Wellness at Penn, and the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI). This massive collaborative effort, known as Project Quaker, was essential for setting up the infrastructure of supplies, space, equipment, and staff needed to increase testing capacity on campus.

Penn Today highlights key facts and figures about the Penn Cares testing program, and how Project Quaker helped bring students back to campus for the spring semester.


    • 140,910

      The total number of tests completed since Jan. 3. So far, more than 20,000 members of the Penn community have been tested since the program was launched earlier this year and more than 12,000 tests have been conducted on a weekly basis since the start of February.

      Testing data are updated weekly on Penn’s COVID-19 dashboard, which also provides information on positivity rates, overall prevalence, and the numbers of students in quarantine or isolation.

    • 27

      The total gallons of saliva collected by Penn Cares for testing (for each test, participants collect 1 mL of saliva).

      This easy, safe, and non-invasive approach to COVID-19 testing produces results that are just as accurate and sensitive as the nasal swab tests that were used on campus this fall.

    • 804

      The number of people tested during a single hour at the High Rise/Du Bois tent at Rodin Field last week.

      The success of Penn’s testing sites is made possible thanks to staff who are using their expertise in event management and logistics, experience that is instrumental in the smooth operation of multiple large-scale testing sites.

    • 7

      The number of testing sites available across campus.

      Six of these sites—High Rise/Dubois tent, Annenberg Center, Richards tent, Houston Hall, the Palestra, and Ace Adams tent—are reserved for COVID-19 screening tests. The site in Irvine auditorium is used for PennOpen Pass “red pass” testing.

    • 55,000

      Number of disposable surgical masks provided to research labs by Penn’s Environmental Health and Radiation Safety. EHRS also helped fit test over 1,000 N95 respirators for faculty, students, and staff at the Dental School.

      Other supplies provided by EHRS to labs across campus include 600 thermometers, 346 face shields, and more than 800 buckets of disinfectant.

For information on COVID-19, visit and follow @COVIDPenn on Twitter and Instagram.

a person wheeling a cart stacked with boxes of gloves and placing them down by other boxes and a table with number placards
A number of staff have been reassigned to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts and programs, from supporting Project Quaker to working as contact tracers.