UT-Austin students experience delayed messages, results after COVID-19 tests

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Photo Credit: Cate Lowry | Daily Texan Staff

Some students are receiving their COVID-19 test results and contact tracing notifications days later than the University promised, leaving students to figure out their own plans for action.

University Health Services makes test results available through the MyUHS portal one to two days after testing, said Susan Hochman, associate director for assessment, communications and health information technology for UHS. UHS calls people whose results are positive or inconclusive immediately, Hochman said in an email.

Business freshman Rahil Jagetia said he got tested off campus after being in contact with a friend who later tested positive for COVID-19. When the test came back negative, he decided to get a second test through the Proactive Community Testing program to confirm. 

Jagetia said UHS told him he would know his results in one to three days and would receive a phone call if he tested positive. When three days passed and he was not called, Jagetia assumed he tested negative. However, four days after his test, he received an email from UHS telling him to check his portal, which showed a positive result.

“I didn’t get a call. No one told me anything,” Jagetia said. “I didn’t know what to do at first because I wasn’t contacted (over the phone).”

 

Jagetia said he went to a city of Austin isolation facility almost a week after he tested positive. He said he called UHS for clarification on what he should do multiple times, and he was not called for contact tracing until after his time at the isolation facility was over.

“Luckily, I did (contact tracing) on my own, but I don’t think most UT students do that,” Jagetia said. “It was so far out that everyone I came in contact with pretty much already got two negative tests before UT even contacted them.”

Hochman said the majority of test results are reported within two days after collection.

“Previously, delays occurred if a barcode was not read correctly or pending due to other reasons,” Hochman said. “This process has recently been improved. In these circumstances, we make every effort to rectify these before asking a participant to come in for recollection.”

Hochman said if UHS is unable to reach an individual by phone, they will send them a secure message with positive results through the MyUHS portal.

“Rather than rely on an individual to check for their results in the portal, we reach out to them immediately if they are positive to ensure there is no lag time between when they begin their self-isolation,” Hochman said. 

Business freshman Ethan Milos said he was in contact with Jagetia in San Jacinto Residence Hall, but the University did not contact him until 10 days after Jagetia tested positive. He said he didn’t get an email from San Jacinto until two days after Jagetia tested positive.

“There’s just no point in that because it’s too late,” Milos said.

Jagetia said the University did a good job of handling procedures such as transportation to the isolation facility.

“UT handled everything well,” Jagetia said. “The problem was everything was just delayed.”