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University of Utah COVID-19
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U of U will test all 32,000 students for COVID-19 before Thanksgiving break

FILE - In this May 20, 2020, file photo, Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurse Lee Cherie Booth performs a coronavirus test outside the Salt Lake County Health Department in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has announced it will test more than 32,000 students for COVID-19 before classes are dismissed for the Thanksgiving break.

The University cited Utah’s rising case numbers of COVID-19 for their decision to undertake this large testing commitment.

“The decision to test all students for COVID-19 is not one being taken lightly,” the University posted on its website. “The fact is that despite all best efforts, the number of cases of the virus is rising at an alarming rate and so additional measures to stop the spread must be taken,” the web post continued.

On Sunday, the Utah Department of Health reported 2,386 new cases of COVID-19. That number equates to a 25.6% daily positive testing rate in Utah.

How Thanksgiving COVID-19 testing will work

Beginning on November 11 and extending through November 23, University of Utah students will be asked to report to one of several on-campus testing sites to be tested for the novel coronavirus. This first test will be a rapid test.

According to Cameron Wright, program manager of the University’s COVID-19 testing, each student will be asked to download an app that will allow them to easily register for a testing time.

RELATED: University of Utah creates more support groups for people affected by COVID-19

Wright says the app will also relay the students’ test results.

The testing will be free of charge.

What will happen next

If a student tests positive in their initial test, the University will conduct another test, this time using a saliva sample.  The student will be asked to isolate themselves while they wait for the results of the saliva test.

If a student is confirmed to have tested positive for COVID-19 with the saliva test, they will follow a 14-day protocol for isolation and quarantine.

If the student tests negative, Wright said, they will be asked to continue safe behaviors which include social distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing.

“It’s about safety,” Wright said. “The more often we can conveniently get the students tested, the more quickly we can help identify those who we can support in isolating and keeping those around them safe as well.

Testing each student is also a means to safely continue the University experience and assure the continuation of the programming that students and parents expect, Wright said.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States