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As COVID-19 spreads, large number of Utahns aren't getting tested

Posted at 4:17 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 18:17:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s disturbingly high COVID-19 positive test rate reached even higher this week.

Public health experts say the new positive rate shows a large number of infected Utahns aren’t getting tested and the virus is quietly spreading.

“We think there is actually even more infection out there,” Intermountain Health infectious disease physician Dr. Todd Vento said.

READ: Utah health leaders discuss why people need both doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Utah’s new positive test rate is now 27 percent. The previous high was 24.6 percent back on November 16. Then, the average rate slipped down to 21.3 percent just after Thanksgiving. Now, cases and the positive test rates are climbing again.

“The fact is from the point of transmission, it is even as important, if not more important, to pay attention to folks that don’t have symptoms because that is really where we see the greatest risk of transmission,” Dr. Vento said.

With so many infections, doctors admit it’s more difficult to learn where people are getting sick. The CDC, however, reports Utah transmission is up 28 percent inside homes.

READ: Frontline Utah healthcare workers could get COVID-19 vaccine next week

“That’s really the issue. You are gathering and you don’t know you have it,” Dr. Vento said.

The World Health Organization reports a positive test rate below 5 percent shows community spread is under control.