Office of the President

November 10, 2020 – Free COVID-19 Testing for Thanksgiving Break—Before & After

To: Campus Community
From: President Gayle Hutchinson

With the Thanksgiving holiday drawing near, I know the entire Chico State community is looking forward to a well-deserved break with family and friends.

With spikes in COVID-19 cases throughout California and beyond, conditions require all of us to celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently this year. Let’s continue to physically distance, wear face coverings indoors and outdoors when six feet of distance isn’t possible, wash our hands frequently, and self-isolate if we develop symptoms. 

For those traveling for the holiday or spending it in households that aren’t our own, it is wise to get tested for COVID-19 prior to Thanksgiving break. This advance testing is crucial for making an informed decision about whether to continue—or cancel—travel plans to avoid potentially affecting loved ones if you test positive. It will also give you peace of mind to know you don’t have COVID-19 and aren’t inadvertently risking anyone’s health.

And, I urge everyone to get tested again once you return from break to ensure you’re keeping those around you healthy. 

Free Testing

Getting tested has never been more convenient. And, there’s plenty of time to get tested and get your results back—which typically takes 3 to 5 days—before Thursday, November 26. The University recommends getting tested no later than Wednesday, November 18 and then again immediately after you return from your travels.

There are many testing locations throughout Butte County, including the state’s free OptumServe site, which recently moved close to campus at 900 Mangrove Avenue in Chico. The tests are completely free and anyone can get tested for COVID-19 for any reason, even people who don’t have symptoms. Of course, you should be tested if you have close contact with a person with COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms. You may contact Chico State’s COVID-19 Hotline for guidance at 530-898-2222.

The free testing at OptumServe is by appointment only, Monday–Friday, 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Visit to schedule an appointment. Same-day appointments may not be available so please plan accordingly.

When you register for an appointment, there are several demographic questions to help the State of California understand who is getting tested. If you are uncomfortable answering the questions, select “Unknown” or “Choose Not to Identify”—answers don’t impact access to a free test.  

The online patient screening asks if you have a primary healthcare provider or insurance and has spaces to enter information. Neither your doctor nor your insurance is billed for testing. You may select “Yes” and leave those spaces blank if desired. If you don’t have insurance, simply select “No.” Testing services are completely free.

COVID-19 Hotline

As always, for all COVID-19-related questions and concerns—and to report possible COVID-19 exposure—call Chico State’s COVID-19 Hotline at 530-898-2222. Calls to the hotline are voluntary, and all information will remain confidential. The hotline is staffed during University operating hours—8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. If calling outside of University business hours, your call will be returned within 24 hours (excluding weekends).

I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and enjoyable holiday. In this season of gratitude, I thank you for doing your part to keep our community healthy.