Answers to questions about the U’s COVID testing

Utah has had a troubling surge in coronavirus cases, and university leaders are committed to actions to protect students, their families and the health of our community as we navigate coronavirus and prepare to travel at Thanksgiving and at the end of the semester. The plan also is in line with the State of Emergency and Executive Public Health Order Gov. Gary R. Herbert issued on Nov. 8, 2020.

This FAQ outlines the university’s testing plan and explains the governor’s order. 

Why is the U’s testing plan focused on students?

We are concerned about the possibility that students may be asymptomatic and unintentionally expose their families to coronavirus as they return home. We hope that by testing students we will be able to identify those who are asymptomatic and provide them with an opportunity to isolate on campus or at home while the virus runs its course, thus reducing risk to families and the community.

As our health experts have noted, by quickly identifying those who have coronavirus we will be in a better position to help stop its spread in our community and to protect people who are at risk of serious illness and complications that can lead to death.

When will students be tested?

All students are asked to sign up to be tested between Nov. 11-Nov. 23. Students were sent a message on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, directing them to a website to sign up for a test.

What else will I need to do to get tested?

You will need to download the Navica App to receive test results and will be required to show your U ID upon arrival at a testing site.

Will I have to pay for the test? 

No, the test is free to students.

Where and when can I get a test?

A text message was sent on Wednesday, Nov. 11, directing students to a page on alert.utah.edu that links to a Qualtrics registration form to schedule a free test.

Testing is available at five locations:  Rice-Eccles Stadium; Officers Club (students living on campus only), and University of Utah Health Centers in Farmington, South Jordan and on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City. Testing is available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.at U campus locations and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at health clinics in Farmington, South Jordan and on Redwood Road.

My classes are all online and I haven’t been on campus this semester. Should I get tested?

Yes, we are encouraging all students to get a free test as this will identify students who are asymptomatic and thus help reduce spread of coronavirus in the state of Utah.

How will I be tested?

The U is using the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test. At the testing site, you will self-swab a nostril and insert the swab into a card that indicates a negative or positive result.

When and how will I get results of my test?

You will be notified via the Navica App of your test result, likely within 1 to 2 hours

What will happen if my test is positive for coronavirus?

If your test is provisionally positive, you will be asked to return to the testing site to take a saliva test to confirm the result and then to self-isolate while awaiting confirmation, which may take 36 to 72 hours. If the test is confirmed positive, you will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days while the virus runs its course.

How accurate is this test?

The BinaxNOW test is among the most accurate of currently available rapid tests with a sensitivity of 97.1% and a specificity of 98.5%.

What if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, do not come to one of the testing sites. Instead, call 801-587-0712 to be guided to an appropriate location to be tested.

What if I have already tested positive for COVID-19?

There is no need to come in for this testing if you have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 90 days. However, we do ask that you complete the scheduling survey, where you will be able to indicate that you have already tested positive for the virus.

Is this test mandatory?

No, but the university administration is strongly encouraging students to get a test due to the prevalence of coronavirus in our state. Your participation will help us slow spread of the virus.

I do not live in Salt Lake City. Do I need to travel to one of the testing sites to get tested?  

No. The U’s testing locations are located in Salt Lake and Davis counties. Students attending classes only online are encouraged to be tested, but not if doing so requires them to travel a long distance. Students living in other parts of the state and attending class only online are encouraged to follow public health guidance in their area and to be tested by a local health care provider if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

What does the Executive Order issued by the governor say?

Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s executive orders that require statewide use of face coverings in public, prohibit youth and extracurricular sports and activities (intercollegiate competitions are excepted), limit social gatherings to immediate household members, and require weekly coronavirus testing of college students. This order is in effect from now to Nov. 23.

The governor’s order requires higher education institutions to do weekly testing. Why is the U “strongly encouraging” students to get tested before Thanksgiving?

Prior to the governor’s order, the U planned to test students living on-campus or taking at least one in-person class on campus before Thanksgiving and winter break. That plan has now been expanded to all students. The U will do weekly testing of students living on campus or taking at least one in-person class on campus beginning in January as spring semester begins. That is in line with the governor’s order, which calls for weekly testing to begin in January.

Why is the state focused on testing college-age students?

The focus on college-age students is due to the fact that people in this age group are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of the virus. The 15-24 age group also is experiencing the second-highest acceleration in positive coronavirus cases in Utah, just behind people ages 24 to 44.

Does the U have enough resources available to administer a broad testing program?

The U has received rapid testing kits—the BinaxNOW tests—from the Utah Department of Health to use for our student testing program. To sustain a weekly testing program for students, the U will continue to support from the state and the federal government.

Why am I also receiving a weekly test message asking me to do a self-check for symptoms of coronavirus?

The weekly health self-check is being sent to students, staff and faculty and is designed to promote continued awareness of COVID-19 symptoms and the importance of following public health guidelines—wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently, maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet and staying home if sick.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

If you have additional questions, email campuscovidtesting@utah.edu