Students voice concerns about Boynton’s capacity for COVID-19 testing and wait times

Though the University has recently expanded testing availability, some students have been opting to get tested off-campus to obtain faster results, avoid appointment traffic and tight testing criteria.

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Audrey Rauth

Boynton Health, the COVID-19 testing site for the University of Minnesota campus, sits empty on Sunday, Oct. 25. Testing is currently by appointment only, for those displaying symptoms, those recently exposed to someone with a positive diagnosis and healthcare staff.

Srilekha Garishakurti

Some students at the University of Minnesota have expressed concerns about Boynton Health’s COVID-19 testing criteria and accessibility.

In order to get tested at Boynton, students either need to have been showing COVID-19 symptoms or to have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Though Boynton will be expanding testing capabilities this month to keep up with increased demand, some University students have opted to get tested off-campus to obtain faster results and avoid appointment traffic and tight testing criteria.

Second-year student Jack Holthusen, who expressed concern over the University testing eligibility, said he did not meet the qualifications for getting a COVID-19 test at Boynton. Holthusen had a mutual friend who had been displaying COVID-19 symptoms, but had not yet been confirmed to have the virus.

“We found out even if we did get tested, the results won’t come back for 3-7 days. So that was kind of frustrating because I had just been with my family and Boynton could not tell us anything we had until [my mutual friend’s] tests came back,” Holthusen said.

On average, it takes 48 hours to receive a positive test result and 2-3 days to receive a negative test result, said Dave Golden, the director of public health and communications at Boynton.

Third-year University student Madisyn DeFranco got tested at Boynton with the assumption that it would take 2-3 days to get her results back. DeFranco said she ended up waiting five days for her negative test results.

She said she feels that Boynton’s capacity for testing must be increased although she is thankful for the individual saliva testing the University recently approved.

“I am glad that they are sending the individual saliva tests out, but I feel like there is probably more than one time I’m going to have a COVID scare,” she said. “There’s more than one time I need to test before I go see my family.”

Due to the lack of frequent testing, DeFranco has resorted to going to other locations for more accessible testing.

“I wish we could get tested more frequently, which is why I ended up going to [North Memorial Health Specialty Center] that one time because you don’t have to have symptoms for you to go there,” she said.

Other universities are taking more steps to ensure prevention for students, DeFranco said.

“I think the University could be doing a lot more testing-wise,” DeFranco said, adding that getting tested weekly is required for her friends at the University of Illinois. “I think it has been slowing down outbreaks there.”

The University COVID-19 dashboard includes positive COVID-19 cases collected primarily through Boynton, which University officials warn is not representative of the number of cases on campus. The University also added positive case totals from the Minnesota Department of Health, which includes data from Boynton, Gopher Athletics and elsewhere. However, not all those tested elsewhere may have disclosed their affiliation with the University.

Holthusen said he wants to see more enforcement of COVID-19 prevention measures from the University.

“I have two in-person labs and I have no idea what the other students in the labs are doing in their free time and if they are being safe or as safe as I am being. It would be nice to know if the U was doing more to ensure my safety when I have to go to these labs,” Holthusen said.