First Week Recap
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
Thank you to all of you who have pitched in to make the first week-and-a-half of a very unusual semester go so well.
For those of you who have not visited campus, it is pretty quiet. That’s a little sad, but we know it has to be that way for now. Those of you who have returned for class, research or work have probably seen what I’ve seen: people taking care of themselves and others. People are wearing masks, staying at least six feet apart and participating in the UTEP Coronavirus Proactive Testing Program.
We’re doing all this so that we can protect people’s health and continue to learn and research at the same time. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everyone pitching in to help make that possible.
Our proactive testing program has been up and running for three weeks and seems to be working well.
If you have any symptoms of illness, please stay home and do NOT come to campus for testing. You are encouraged to get tested at one of the free community testing sites listed here.
I’ve been asked frequently about the results. Let me share them with you.
Since we began the program on August 12, we have gotten the results for 3,829 coronavirus tests. Of those tests, 26 have come back positive. That’s a very low positivity rate of about 0.68% – far less than the community around us. Those 26 individuals who tested positive didn’t know they were sick, and because they chose to be tested, they were able to stay home and prevent making other people sick. That is exactly what this program is intended to do: identify positive coronavirus cases early to suppress the disease.
If you will be on campus at some point this semester and have not already consented to participate in the testing program, I encourage you to do so today at consent.utep.edu, and then stop by one of the on-campus testing locations between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. any weekday. We are updating the testing locations on a weekly basis at utep.edu/covidtesting.
The average time from collection of the sample to results being available to you is about 32 hours. We’re working on some changes to reduce that time even further, and the testing team is also looking at the collection schedule to make sure everyone who would like to be tested can do so conveniently.
When you come to campus for testing, you can take advantage of free parking in the Sun Bowl Parking Garage – just push the button at the north or south gate and let the attendant know you’re there for coronavirus testing.
For those of you who are not working or studying on campus this semester, there is free testing available in the community and we encourage you to take advantage of it. A list of those testing sites is here.
Again, thanks to all of you for everything you have done to allow UTEP to continue our teaching and research in the presence of disease. Let’s continue to take care of each other and look forward to the day when we can go back to handshakes and hugs.