Less than a week out from the start of the spring semester, the University of Utah is ramping up testing efforts for its campus community.
Weekly testing will be required for the 3,200 students who live on campus and encouraged for all other students, faculty and staff.
“That’s part of our commitment to try to control the spread of the virus,” said Chris Nelson, spokesperson for the university.
There are two testing centers on campus. Students can make an appointment online and show up for a saliva-based PCR test. Results, Nelson said, will take 24 to 48 hours.
What we know with college-age students is that a lot of them are vectors or carriers of the virus, and one of the things we want to do is make sure we’re catching that before they have a chance to spread it,” Nelson said.
Cameron Wright is the campus COVID-19 testing program manager. He said a push for weekly testing in necessary.
“This allows us to catch the surprisingly high number of individuals who are symptomatic and still interacting, attending classes, going back to their residence halls or going back to their communities,” Wright said.
Last semester, asymptomatic testing was offered before breaks.
“Right before Thanksgiving, following holiday weekends and so forth,” Wright said.
This semester, Wright said the university has the capacity to test more students and staff.
“It’s essential to being able to keep our operations open on campus,” he said.
Anna Tidwell, a senior on campus, has been getting tested weekly because of her job on campus.
It gives me more reassurance that I’m not spreading it asymptomatically,” Tidwell said.
The process is quick, she said. She makes an appointment ahead of time and then shows up for her test.
“It’s pretty straight forward and simple. They explain what to do. They’re there to answer questions if you’re struggling,” she said. “Spit in a little tube and you’re on your way.”
A few minutes out of her week makes the other parts of her life feel a bit more normal.
“It just makes me feel more comfortable being at work in person,” Tidwell said.