U Health Creates COVID-19 Testing Center at Rice-Eccles Stadium

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Tom Denton

Signs in front of the Rice Eccles COVID-19 testing station at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Porshai Nielsen, News Writer

 

 

On Oct. 12, the drive-up COVID-19 testing center opened in the parking lot of Rice-Eccles Stadium, allowing students, faculty and community members to access testing facilities. 

The University of Utah partnered with U Health to create these two drive-up spots to best serve the community on and around campus.

According to Kylene Metzger, the Media Relations Specialists for U Health, the testing center has received a lot of great feedback. The appointments are getting filled each day, meaning the center is reaching its testing capacity each day since its opening. 

Cars waiting in line at the Rice-Eccles COVID-19 testing station at the  University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle) (Tom Denton )

The testing center is unique in as it will provide self-collected saliva testing, instead of the often painful nasopharyngeal swab. 

In a recent study by Associated Regional and University Pathologists (ARUP) and U of U Health, there have been findings that nasal swabs collected by healthcare providers and the self-collection of saliva are equally effective in the detection of COVID-19. 

“Every time I was tested, it was nasal. I ended up getting tested three times because of InstaCare mistakes: cracked lids, mislabeling etc. I definitely wish I could have gotten the saliva, I believe people are scared to go because of the nasal test,” said Shelby Johansen, fourth-year accounting student. 

At this time, the Rice-Eccles testing location will only be testing symptomatic people. U Health only tests asymptomatic people if they had a high-risk exposure or with a U Health physician order. They will not test people with an order from another organization’s health provider. 

Other testing requirements include symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or other flu-like symptoms. Those who require testing prior to an appointment or procedure should contact their provider for a testing order to be used at the Rice-Eccles location.  

If someone is unsure if they are symptomatic or should be tested, they can contact the U Health Coronavirus Hotline, 801-587-0712, or toll-free, 844-745-9326. Appointments are encouraged to be made through MyChart because of the increase in call volumes on the hotline. 

People get tested at the Rice-Eccles COVID-19 testing station at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Tom Denton | Daily Utah Chronicle)

The Rice-Eccles testing center will be open on Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., appointments are required. Patients are able to access the site by entering the parking lot on the Southside of Rice-Eccles Stadium on 500 South. 

“Having more convenient places to get tested can be beneficial for students to stay on top of their COVID status. College kids are still hanging out with each other regardless of case numbers; they should at least have access to close testing sites,” said Robby King, fourth-year business finance student. 

The U has 3,400 students living in university-owned facilities and 30,000 employees. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 75% of employees work from home or remotely. Employees must report results to have authorized sick leave. 

The U keeps a public record of self-reported cases on campus from faculty and staff. Fall semester alone yielded 930 positive tests between faculty, students and those living in student housing. The numbers provided by The U are only available from those that self-report a positive result; it is not required for students living off-campus. 

 

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@porshainielsen