UT-Austin will test 5,000 people a week for coronavirus and cover out-of-pocket costs for students

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An aerial view of the main tower at the University of Texas at Austin during the coronavirus outbreak on March 23, 2020. Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

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The University of Texas at Austin, one of Texas’ largest universities, will provide all students with tests at no charge and plans to proactively test 5,000 asymptomatic campus individuals a week in an effort to deter outbreaks.

This comes after the university earned the distinction from The New York Times as the leading U.S. college in the number of COVID-19 cases, which could be due to a lack of reporting from other schools. The University of Texas reported a total of 472 COVID-19 cases among students, faculty and staff as of Thursday. The university also found 22 positive cases in its proactive tests, with 823 coming back negative.

The proactive tests for asymptomatic individuals will be deployed by the university and will not be open for individual requests. The university plans to test all of its campus residence hall students by the beginning of September. It will continue to identify individuals or groups on campus strategically to test those at a higher risk of disease spread, as well as random testing. All testing will be voluntary.

The university can test hundreds of symptomatic students using in-house labs and has three rapid testing machines that can provide results in 15 minutes. The university will also continue to conduct voluntary contact tracing through a partnership with Dell Medical School and Austin Public Health.

The University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at El Paso will also provide free on-campus testing. The Texas A&M System will provide free tests across its 11 universities.

Disclosure: University of Texas - Arlington, University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas at El Paso have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.