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City, county leaders to set up more COVID-19 testing for UArizona off-campus students

Posted at 6:25 AM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 09:25:44-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - When classes resumed at the University of Arizona, many students returned to Tucson. Students living on-campus and were required to test for COVID-19 in order to move in, but those living off-campus were not required to take a COVID test to move in.

This was the case for hundreds of students who live in apartment complexes near the university.

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“Right now, we have a problem," said Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik.

Councilman Kozachik said he was concerned about the spread of COVID-19 within off-campus apartment complexes, which is why he set up pop-up testing nearby, last week.

“That has a real potential to spread like wildfire. Not only through those apartment complexes but also onto campus and into the community," he said.

KGUN9 spoke with Pima County Health Department Director Dr. Theresa Cullen, who said she shares these concerns for students living in off-campus housing.

“Our concern is that many of these complexes are creating opportunities for people to share social interactions but also increase transmission of the COVID virus," she said.

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Dr. Cullen said congregating near pools, in apartment complex lobbies, and even in hallways can become a risk for transmission of the virus between students.

“There are lots of different people living and sharing a space where they’re living and sharing some areas where they’re congregating," she said.

Councilman Kozachik told KGUN9 that his office set-up pop-up testing for two days. He said Rescue Me Wellness, which is the provider he used, ended up testing more than 200 students.

This week, Dr. Cullen said the county plans on offering testing at nine different locations near off-campus apartment complexes neighboring the University of Arizona.

A spokesperson with the Pima County Health Department said the department plans on testing throughout the rest of this week and in the weeks ahead. They plan on releasing more information on exact times and locations this week.