Waiting times for Utah COVID-19 tests are improving as promised


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Two weeks after people reported waiting in line for hours to get a COVID-19 test, the Utah Department of Health said the issues were resolved.

Brittany Brown, assistant director of COVID testing for the Utah Department of Health, said the longest waiting times the department sees at the community‘s test sites are 15 to 20 minutes. That’s compared to hours a few weeks ago.

“We hired more staff and changed some of the on-site processes to make sure it was as efficient as possible,” said Joshia Walker, COO and co-founder of Nomi Health.

When it comes to waiting times for test results, both Test Utah and the University of Utah reported having longer than normal waiting times for PCR results to return due to the volume of the test.

With Test Utah taking over most of the department’s test sites, the company decided to cut deadlines temporarily and use a first-come-first-serve approach.

“We felt it was better to set the right expectations and adapt to the influx of people,” said Walker.

The transition allows the health department to focus its efforts on testing in schools.

“We’re trying to improve our contact tracing, especially with minors,” said Brown.

The department plans to use an automated system that will send text messages to minors so that they can complete their contract follow-up.

“We’re also working with the State Board of Education to improve how we attribute positive test scores to a school,” said Brown.

It is hoped that this will speed up the reporting of cases to schools.

Meanwhile, many are concerned that local health officials are not reporting adequately how many students are contracting the virus.

“If someone is tested at a clinic, pharmacy, or community testing site, we will definitely hear about those test results,” said Brown.

Brown said the state would only be unaware of a positive test result if it was from a home test.

“We know that home testing is becoming increasingly popular. People buy the tests at home from a pharmacy or grocery store to do their own test for several reasons. Either they don’t want to wait on a test line, or maybe they don’t want the health department to know if they tested positive, so that’s a problem, “Brown said.

While home test kits don’t report positive results back to the state, the department is considering other home testing options.

“It would be some kind of model where, ideally, we could get high quality public health reporting,” Brown said. When it comes to waiting times for test results, both Test Utah and the University of Utah reported having longer than normal waiting times for PCR results to return due to the volume of the test.

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