1st tests: 12 University of Kentucky students have COVID-19

Conner Sheetz, of Lexington, Ky., a sophomore environmental science and sustainability major, left, is tested for COVID-19 by Ryan Bertram, of Louisville, Ky., a COVID specialist with Wild Health at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. Testing will be available for all students between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Aug. 22.

Alex Slitz

aslitz@herald-leader.com

Twelve University of Kentucky students tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of results from campus screenings, UK announced Thursday.

The university tested 1,600 students Monday, and 12 positives amounted to a 0.7 percent positivity rate, UK aims to test every student that arrives on campus as it establishes a baseline. The data will be shared with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the state.

During his Thursday COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear said that one of the students who tested positive “supposedly went to a party.” At the time of the briefing, Beshear said he hadn’t seen the UK numbers yet.

“I loved college when I was in it,” Beshear said. “You can’t be doing the things that put your experience at risk. Our college kids shouldn’t be faced with that, but we didn’t have to be that level of responsible. Actions now can kill people.”

The last day of the initial round of free student testing is Aug. 22. Every student who plans to be on campus must be tested by the university or submit a test result from another provider within seven days of their arrival on campus.

The university will update its COVID-19 numbers daily. Results for Tuesday and Wednesday are still pending. The university hired Wild Health — which has done testing for Churchill Downs and Keeneland — to perform and analyze the tests.

To get tested, students are notified via text and email about when they can schedule a test. They pick a half-hour window between Aug. 3 and Aug. 22, and arrive for the screening. The first day of official dorm move-in is Saturday and the first day of classes is Aug. 17. The university has capacity to test up to 30,000 students, but it isn’t likely to hit that number because students can submit tests from other providers and online-only students won’t have to be tested.

Students interviewed at the Kroger Field testing site on Tuesday said their testing experience was smooth and easy, but many still had some reservations about the potential spread of the contagious respiratory virus at off-campus events and parties during the upcoming semester. Employees are not required to get tested — a point that employees and students have criticized. The university does offer free testing to employees who are symptomatic.

Drive-through testing for students is available at the Blue Lot at Kroger Field.

Walk-up tests are available at the following locations.

University-owned houses between State and University streetsThe walkway between Blazer Dining and Boyd Hall off South Martin Luther King BoulevardIn Greek Park, just off Rose LaneOn the William T. Young Library lawn at Hilltop and Woodland avenues
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