BYU Tests 8,000 Students For COVID-19 Ahead Of Thanksgiving Break

Nov 20, 2020, 6:35 PM | Updated: Nov 23, 2020, 2:16 pm

PROVO, Utah – Volunteers from the nursing school at Brigham Young University have tested 8,000 students for COVID-19 before they head home for Thanksgiving. It is a huge effort that they pulled together with very short notice.

The university has asked as many asymptomatic students as possible to volunteer for the tests. The testing center opened only two days ago and thousands of students have already been given their results.

Doing the right thing may look a bit unusual in 2020. It may include getting a swab shoved up your nose.

“I don’t want to feel bad and get anyone sick, you know,” said Seth Rios, one of the students checking his health ahead of the holiday.

Henry Vanslooten was one more than 100 volunteers who signed up to make this happen.

“This is, I guess, kind of what nursing students live for,” he said.

Volunteer Henry Vanslooten said this is what nursing students live for. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV) Henry Vanslooten tests a student at BYU. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

A few days ago all of this might have seemed like a long shot to pull off.

“This is what we do as nurses. We jump in and help when help is needed,” said Dr. Julie Valentine who has been training the volunteers.

Many of these students are preparing for finals, Valentine said, yet many still jumped at the chance to help. They signed up for a total of 144 shifts in just a few hours.

“It warmed my heart. I mean, it just made me think, ‘what amazing nurses they will be.’ That they saw a need, that nursing care and healthcare was needed and they said ‘alright, tell us what to do,’” she said.

Dr. Julie Valentine trained the volunteer testers. (Mike Anderson, KSL-TV)

They felt it was important work — checking for asymptomatic carriers to reduce the holiday spread of COVID-19.

“Especially among college students and the college population. I think people our age have a tendency to be not as good at social distancing or wearing masks,” Vanslooten said.

It takes just a few minutes once students get through the line. Now some of them know how to handle their time away.

“Being with Grandma and Grandpa,” Dr. Valentine said. “We need to know, for those students that are asymptomatic, if they’re a positive test – if they could possibly be a carrier.”

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus: Stronger Together

This photo provided by Pfizer in September 2023 shows single-dose vials of the company's updated CO...

Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US approves updated COVID vaccines to rev up protection this fall

U.S. regulators have approved updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, shots aimed at revving up protection this fall and winter.

6 months ago

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...

Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.

1 year ago

Only 50% of Utans are vaccinated and cases are surging because of the Omicron variant BA.5. FILE PH...

Jed Boal

BA.5 variant driving new surge of Utah COVID-19 cases

President Joe Biden’s positive Covid case Thursday was a sober reminder that Utah is not done fending off COVID-19 in many communities.

2 years ago

Utah COVID testing site. Getty images...

Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

New mobile COVID-19 testing sites open in Utah

With the summer travel season underway and a steady stream of people still testing positive for COVID-19, Nomi Health opened several mobile testing sites across Utah.

2 years ago

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19...

Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Hospital ceremony honors survivors, healthcare heroes as U.S. hits one million COVID-19 deaths

The lawn of Timpanogos Regional Hospital was adorned with flags to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, those who survived it, and the caregivers and healthcare workers who cared for the sick.

2 years ago


Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Utah County couple gives Minky Couture blankets to medical team at Utah Valley Hospital

Russell Greene doesn't call himself a COVID-19 survivor, he calls himself a COVID-19 miracle. His family thanked medical workers for saving his life.

2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

BYU Tests 8,000 Students For COVID-19 Ahead Of Thanksgiving Break