UT urges students to participate in COVID-19 testing twice a week

Lauren Nelson

UT is encouraging all students to partake in proactive community testing twice a week to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, campus PCT capacity currently sits at 15,000 tests a week.

With about 51,000 students enrolled at the University, it would take around 102,000 tests a week for University Health Services to screen students as UT has encouraged. However, UHS plans to create an additional two testing facilities in September with a minimum screening capacity of 1,000 students per day, said Jessica Klima, the director of the PCT program, in an email. 

Currently, UT has two testing sites. The Student Services Building can test up to 1,000 students per day, and Jester West Fireplace Lounge can test up to 2,000 per day, totaling 15,000 tests per week. 

The UT-Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium estimates COVID-19 will infect between 5,000 to 16,300 students this fall if the vaccination rate remains around 60% and PCT is not implemented. However, if UT tests unvaccinated students twice a week, the consortium expects cases to fall to a range of 900 to 3,900. Currently, UT would need 20,000 tests a week to screen unvaccinated students.

Compared to this time last month, the University saw a 128% increase in student COVID-19 cases and a 100% increase among faculty and staff, according to the COVID-19 dashboard

While UT cannot institute a vaccine or mask mandate, the University is offering incentives, such as up to $10,000 in cash prizes, tickets to a football game with UT President Jay Hartzell and a picture on the football field with Bevo. The drawings for the winners will take place weekly between Sept. 3 and Oct. 8.