Dixie State lacks testing capacity to enforce state order
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A university in southern Utah said testing will be encouraged but not mandatory despite state health orders mandating college students get tested weekly for the coronavirus.
“The truth is we don’t have enough tests to even test everyone,” said Jordon Sharp, vice president of marketing and communication at Dixie State. “Now, if that changes, then then we’ll see what happens.”
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert issued health orders earlier this month requiring college students get weekly COVID-19 tests starting no later than Jan. 1, KUER-FM reported.
Sharp said the university received 2,000 kits, which they hoped to administer to students before Thanksgiving break, but that it is unlikely to happen because there are not enough tests to give to its 12,000 students.
“There’s just really no process in place because we don’t have enough tests,” Sharp said. “So we’ll begin testing any student that would like (one).”
University officials have said to fulfill the state order it would need to test up to 8,800 students, or those living on campus or taking traditional in-person courses.
State officials said the university still has time before the order is enforced.
Herbert said the goal is to screen 250,000 students a week at all of the colleges and universities in the state, but they are waiting for more equipment from the federal government.
“I expect in the next two weeks we’ll be able to lay out a program where all those who have (in-person) classes at our universities, colleges etc. those who stay at the dormitories will be able to be tested at least every other week,” Herbert said. “That’s the plan and I see no reason why that’s not going to happen.”
Dixie State had 43 active COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. There has been more than 400 confirmed cases since the semester began in August.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.