UT University Health Services

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since then, cases have occurred worldwide.

COVID-19 illness ranges from mild to no symptoms to severe illness and death. Although serious cases and death have occurred in healthy, young people, those most seriously affected tend to be older adults and those with underlying medical conditions such as chronic lung conditions, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, diabetes, kidney disease requiring dialysis and liver disease and individuals with weakened immune systems.

The University’s Response, Guidelines and Information about Academics, Financial Questions, Assistance for Students, University Operations, Events, etc..

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The droplets can infect people who are closer than about six feet to the infected person if the droplets land in their mouths or noses or are inhaled into their lungs.

It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). However, transmission is possible when an infected person has mild or no symptoms.

There is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and respiratory viruses in general (e.g., colds and flu).

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep six feet of distance between yourself and others whenever possible.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wear a face covering when you will be around other people, even a homemade face covering. A face covering is not a substitute for keeping six feet between others and yourself. Do both. (Correct use and washing of face coverings)
  • Do not share food, beverages or smoking devices with others.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Avoid shaking hands— wave or “hook ‘em” instead.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid leaving home even if you are well except when necessary.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces often.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue directly into the trash.
  • If you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877.

UHS can provide COVID-19 testing (nasal swab) to determine whether a person is currently infected with the virus. UHS can also provide COVID-19 antibody testing (blood test) to help determine if a person has already been infected with COVID-19. UHS does NOT have the capacity to perform “rapid” or “point of care” testing for COVID-19.

Charges apply for both tests and depend upon whether you have insurance and whether it is accepted by Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL), the lab that runs tests on samples collected at UHS.

UHS charges $88 for the nasal swab test and $53 for the blood test for COVID-19 antibodies (also called a serology test). Insurance may cover some or all of the cost.

If CPL accepts your insurance, they will file a claim with your insurance. You will be responsible for paying the amount your insurance does not cover. Call CPL at (512) 339-1275 to see whether they accept your insurance.

If you are uninsured, UHS will bill you directly. If you have the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), UHS will bill SHIP.

Call the UHS Billing and Insurance Office at (512) 475-8394 regarding additional discounts that may apply.

COVID-19 Test to Determine Current Infection (Nasopharyngeal or Nasal Swab)
UHS collects tests as either a nasopharyngeal or nasal swab. It typically takes three to six days to receive results, depending on volume.

Schedule according to your circumstances below.

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of whether you have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, schedule an appointment with a UHS provider by calling either of the following from 8am to 5pm on weekdays:
    - UHS Appointment Line - (512) 471-4955
    - UHS Nurse Advice Line - (512) 475-6877
  • If you DO NOT have symptoms of COVID-19 but have had close contact* with a laboratory test-confirmed COVID-19 positive person, web book an appointment through the MyUHS patient portal for “walk-up” testing in the Twenty Seventh Street Parking Garage (TSG).
    *Close contact definition - being less than six feet from a positive person for more than 15 minutes without wearing a cloth mask.

Walk-up Testing

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Arrive as close to your appointment time as possible to prevent lines.
  • Come to the garage attendant office on the ground floor - immediately inside the entrance facing the SSB.
  • Social distance if there is a line.

What do the results of this test mean?

POSITIVE NEGATIVE

Virus was detected in the test, consistent with current or recent virus infection. The result is accurate only for the time at which the swab was done. A positive test does not predict whether you will develop symptom or how severe they could be.

You should stay home and self-isolate, even if you do not have symptoms, and monitor yourself for symptoms that may require hospitalization.

Find self-isolation guidelines under “Symptoms” in this chart

No virus particles were detected, meaning there is no evidence of current infection. The result is accurate only for the time at which the swab was done.
POSITIVE

Virus was detected in the test, consistent with current or recent virus infection. The result is accurate only for the time at which the swab was done. A positive test does not predict whether you will develop symptom or how severe they could be.

You should stay home and self-isolate, even if you do not have symptoms, and monitor yourself for symptoms that may require hospitalization.

You should stay home and self-isolate, even if you do not have symptoms, and monitor yourself for symptoms that may require hospitalization.

Find self-isolation guidelines under “Symptoms” in this chart

NEGATIVE
No virus particles were detected, meaning there is no evidence of current infection. The result is accurate only for the time at which the swab was done.

Whether your test is negative or positive, your healthcare will provide additional instructions as necessary and applicable to your circumstances.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing to Determine Past Infection (Blood Test)
This test determines whether a person has antibodies to COVID-19. Antibodies indicate that a person may have had a past COVID-19 infection. It is unclear whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies provides protection (immunity) against reinfection. If they do provide immunity, it is unclear how long immunity would last.

Students who are interested in antibody testing should schedule an appointment with a UHS provider by calling either of the following from 8am – 5pm on weekdays

  • UHS Appointment Line - (512) 471-4955
  • UHS Nurse Advice Line - (512) 475-6877

What do the results of this test mean?

POSITIVE NEGATIVE
You have antibodies that most likely resulted from being infected with COVID-19 or, possibly, a related coronavirus. You probably have not had a previous COVID-19 infection.
It is unclear at this time whether you are protected from (immune to) getting infected with COVID-19 again. If you are immune, the length of immunity is unknown. A negative antibody test does not rule out current infection. It takes one to three weeks (or longer) after being infected with COVID-19 for antibodies to develop. Therefore, you could have an early COVID-19 infection and be able to spread the virus to others and have a negative antibody test.

The level of reassurance provided by a positive antibody test remains unclear. Therefore, you should follow recommended protective measures as if you could become infected and infect others.

How to Protect Yourself

If you have symptoms and meet other criteria for testing, you will need a nasal swab test to determine current infection.
POSITIVE
You have antibodies that most likely resulted from being infected with COVID-19 or, possibly, a related coronavirus.
It is unclear at this time whether you are protected from (immune to) getting infected with COVID-19 again. If you are immune, the length of immunity is unknown.

The level of reassurance provided by a positive antibody test remains unclear. Therefore, you should follow recommended protective measures as if you could become infected and infect others.

How to Protect Yourself

NEGATIVE
You probably have not had a previous COVID-19 infection.
A negative antibody test does not rule out current infection. It takes one to three weeks (or longer) after being infected with COVID-19 for antibodies to develop. Therefore, you could have an early COVID-19 infection and be able to spread the virus to others and have a negative antibody test.
If you have symptoms and meet other criteria for testing, you will need a nasal swab test to determine current infection.

Whether your test is negative or positive, your healthcare will provide additional instructions as necessary and applicable to your circumstances.

Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection (source: CDC). Infected people should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.

Individuals should call their healthcare provider if they experience symptoms described in “Symptoms” above.

Before going to a healthcare facility, call ahead. They will provide instructions about how to come to the facility and where to go upon arrival to minimize the risk of exposing others or, depending on your symptoms, may give self-care advice to follow at home.

  • Students should call the UHS 24-hour Nurse Advice Line 512-475-6877 for advice about how to get medical care. If you have UT Select health insurance, because you are also a benefits-earning employee of UT Austin, you may also call the 24/7 Nurseline provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield at (888-315-9473).
  • Staff and faculty with UT Select insurance may contact the 24/7 Nurseline provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield 888-315-9473 or seek care from UT Health Austin or their personal healthcare provider.

On the way to a healthcare facility:

  • Avoid contact with others as much as possible.
  • Wear a face mask/face covering.
  • Do not take public transportation.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not the hands) when coughing or sneezing.

You might feel stress or anxiety related to COVID-19. It is normal to feel some worry about this evolving situation. Information is being released quickly and guidance changes frequently, creating uncertainly about the future. The end of the semester is not what people had planned, which might create disappointment and a sense of loss. Fear about your health and that of loved ones can be a significant concern.

Some people find reassurance by learning more about COVID-19 or talking with friends or family. Finding ways to maintain social connections, physical activity, adequate sleep and nutrition are key strategies for maintaining physical and mental health. Learn about strategies for staying well while staying home.

If stress, fear, anxiety or other emotions make it difficult to keep up your regular activities, consider contacting the Counseling and Mental Center (CMHC) if you are a student to speak with a counselor about options. CMHC continues to offer mental health services to students - delivered by phone or video. The UT Employee Assistance Program is a resource for faculty and staff and can also arrange phone or video appointments.

CMHC COVID-related drop-in discussion groups

COVID-19 concerns have led to stigma and discrimination against people of Asian descent. This stigma creates fear and harms ordinary people. CMHC offers a virtual drop-in discussion group that is open to Asian and Asian American students who have experienced stigma and racism related to COVID-19.

If you become aware of harmful comments or bias incidents affecting members of the UT Austin community, consider reporting them to the Campus Climate Response Team.


What to do if you have:

Get a COVID-19 test. Find how to schedule at UHS in the “Testing for Current COVID-19 Infection and Antibody Testing at UHS” section above.

Stay at home and self-isolate, monitoring yourself for symptoms that may require hospitalization. Follow self-isolation guidelines under “Symptoms” in this chart.

A person is a “close contact” if you have been less than six feet from a positive person for more than 15 minutes without wearing a cloth mask.

Get a COVID-19 test. Find how to schedule at UHS in the “Testing for Current COVID-19 Infection and Antibody Testing at UHS” section above.

Self-quarantine and self-monitor for fever or respiratory symptoms. Follow self-quarantine and self-monitoring guidelines under “Exposure” in this chart. Find additional information at How to Self-Quarantine (pdf).


Travel Guidelines

Travel abroad advisories
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. For more information on university travel policies, see the Global Risk & Safety website.

For more information:
For the latest information about coronavirus, please visit the dedicated CDC webpage.

Students impacted by these regulations can contact Student Emergency Services for support and guidance. International Students who are unable to return to the United States should contact Texas Global International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).


For more information:

For the latest information about coronavirus, please visit the dedicated CDC webpage. Texas Global also offers travel advice for individuals with planned travel to regions with cases of COVID-19.


Informational Flyer in Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese

Download an informational flyer in the following languages:


UHS communications to campus

6/9/2020 - Current Testing Availability for COVID-19




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