City to University - test off campus now

UA COVID testing

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council will send a message to the University of Arizona next week in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. It will strongly suggest the school start testing off-campus students immediately.

According to health officials, the University Re-entry Task Force has done a credible job containing the virus on campus, but off campus it’s a different story.

Check here to see the county data dashboard which breaks down cases by zip code and census tract.

The census tract near the university shows nearly triple the number of cases as the second leading tract.

The city considers that unacceptable, and is calling on the university to get tougher with the off-campus students, especially before the Thanksgiving break.

“Don’t let kids take part in classes until they take a test - negative,” said Steve Kozachik, Ward 6 Tucson City Council Member. “Repeat that test before they get on a plane and spread it back home, California, Colorado, Texas, wherever they’re going.”

“Actually I think it’s a marvelous idea,” said Dr. Theresa Cullen, the Pima County Health Director. “I think if we can figure out how to test every student, that would be great."

But the university has run into an issue which also seems to be fairly widespread in the community - people refusing to take the tests.

“It may be happening more frequently than we know,” said Dr. Cullen. “What we know is people are not available when we go to test them.”

Students will oftentimes miss the scheduled testing events knowing a positive test means a 10 to 14 day quarantine and would rather take their chances rather than sit in isolation.

The city resolution would solve that by making every student, on campus or remote learning, pass a test.

“They can take tests now if they want to collect grades, if they want to participate, even virtually, then take a test,” Kozachik said. “So that we know you’re not spreading the virus through the community.”

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.