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BYU’s rapid COVID-19 test results reveal low positivity rate on inaugural day of testing

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The Brigham Young University campus in Provo is pictured in 2020.

The Brigham Young University campus in Provo is pictured on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Yukai Peng, Deseret News

PROVO — Brigham Young University completed its first day of rapid antigen testing for COVID-19 Wednesday, testing 2,218 students with a 1.35% positivity rate.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said more than 6,000 students signed up for the pre-Thanksgiving testing.

Earlier this month, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert issued an order that will require all Utah college students who live on campus or take at least one class on campus to undergo weekly testing starting in January.

In the meantime, Utah colleges and universities have embarked on an effort to test college students and staff for COVID-19 using rapid antigen tests prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break.

The rapid antigen test can produce results within 15 minutes. It requires a swab of a lower nostril, which is applied to a test card, roughly the size of a credit card, that can detect the presence of proteins found on or within the novel coronavirus.

People who test positive are advised to confirm the test result with a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, which are considered to be highly accurate.

At the University of Utah, nearly 9,000 students have scheduled rapid antigen tests and thus far, 4,867 tests have been completed with 100 of them positive for a 2% positivity rate. The U. is urging students to continue to sign up for testing at alert.utah.edu/covid-19. Testing will end on Monday, Nov. 23.

Testing was scheduled to get underway at most public colleges and universities this week, although Snow College was still awaiting delivery of test kits as of Tuesday.

Students on residential campuses such as the University of Utah and Utah State University who test positive are asked to isolate following positive test results.

If they elect to do that on campus, they will be provided food service over the holiday break, although both universities will be shifting all classes online after Thanksgiving break to the end of the semester and most students will be vacating residence halls and apartments.

Correction: An earlier version reported 200 University of Utah students had tested positive for COVID-19, a 4% positivity rate. The university later released corrected numbers saying 100 students had tested positive, a rate of 2%.