AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week, the University of Texas at Austin is launching several new initiatives to get more students and staff tested for COVID-19.
Those measures include:
- More walk-up testing;
- No appointments necessary;
- A one-stop comprehensive test: Students and staff can now take the university’s saliva test, and they don’t need a second test for confirmation;
- A soon-to-be rolled out incentive program that’ll encourage more participation;
- And getting closer to the goal of testing 5,000 asymptomatic people a week at university labs.
The push for more testing means a lot to one UT student, who lost her father to COVID-19 after a months-long battle.
July 6 was the start of a life-altering journey for Beatrice Torres and her family in Mission, Texas.
“My entire household got COVID-19, so all of us were in the journey together and dealing with our individualized symptoms,” Torres said.
The Torres family doesn’t know how or where they got the virus. But as the weeks progressed, Torres and the rest of her family started to feel better.
Her dad, unfortunately, got worse. He had trouble breathing, and two weeks later, he knew it was time to go to the hospital.
“As soon as he got in the hospital he said, ‘Don’t worry I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be back before your birthday, and we are going to do a cookout and celebrate your 21st birthday,'” Torres remembered.
He was in the hospital on her 21st birthday, but he managed to sing “Happy Birthday” to her through FaceTime.
The celebration never got to happen.
The countless treatments, oxygen and medications weren’t working. Beatrice and her mom, who is dealing with a brain tumor, got their final moments with her father just before he died on Sept. 2.
“Me and her went together, and I saw my dad for the last time that day, and it was something I couldn’t bear,” Torres said.
On top of losing her father, bills were mounting up. There were funeral expenses, rent, hospital bills and tuition payments to help her fulfill her father’s dream of her becoming the first college graduate in her family.
“I always told him this is our degree,” Torres explained.
Torres said her dad is the reason she is pursuing a neuroscience degree at UT Austin and even now with looming financial hardships, she’s determined to finish. Her goal: to go to medical school and become a doctor in her hometown at the hospital where her father passed away.
“I hope to alleviate some burdens for people that are in my position. People that have a loved one suffering, and I also want to help the person that is suffering,” Torres said.
Her message to people now is cherish life, because it can be ripped away by COVID-19.
To learn more about a verified fund to help Beatrice and her family, click here.