Alexey Novikov - stock.adobe.com

The University of Texas-Austin plans to test up to 5,000 people on campus each week for COVID-19 using "a strategic, scientific-based approach" that includes rapid results, contact tracing and community testing, officials said Tuesday.


The university is relying on in-house testing for faculty, students and staff to reduce the pressures on commercial labs in the community, according to an email from Interim President Jay Hartzell to the UT community.

The goal is to test at least 5,000 members of the campus community every week in order to contain the spread of the virus once school starts, he said.

Symptomatic students will get tests at University Health Services, which provides medical care and patient education to students. Faculty and staff will be tested at the UT Health Austin clinic at Dell Medical School.

"We will have the capacity to test hundreds of symptomatic students each day using in-house labs," Hartzell said. "Additionally, we have ordered three rapid testing machines that will allow for approximately 100 tests per day with a 15-minute turnaround time for results."

UT has enlisted the help of Dell Medical School and Austin Public Health to help with contact tracing for those who test positive for coronavirus.

School officials have also established the UT Proactive Community Testing Program to test asymptomatic individuals at no cost and monitor spread within the community.

"Our success as a university begins and ends with the health of our community," Hartzell said. "While we continue to pursue our teaching and research missions, we must also do our best to limit the presence of COVID-19 on the Forty Acres. This starts with robust and rigorous testing, but also includes our individual actions as community members and our adherence to vital requirements for self-quarantining, daily symptom screening, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, social distancing and other key safety measures."

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