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Some Utahns express concerns as COVID-19 testing sites begin to close

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 20:38:39-05

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah transitions to a "steady state,” COVID-19 testing sites are beginning to close across the state.

READ: Cox says Utah will transition to COVID-19 'steady state'

For Jennifer Dawn and her husband, Chris Block, they have used the testing site at the Cannon Building twice, including Friday afternoon.

They stopped by the site to get tested with their two young daughters, Coral and Sequoia.

"I like to test pretty regularly, we have pretty low exposure risk but we have been going to the gym a little bit lately even though we wear our mask," Dawn said. "I want to make sure that we're all free of COVID and not passing it on to anyone else in the community."

With the more than 100 testing sites closing down by the end of March, the Dawn-Block family and others will have to go another route for testing.

"Taking away this option, you know statewide, country, makes it even more inconvenient for people that can't afford to just run out, buy some tests, and then wait to be reimbursed," Block said.

It is a worry echoed by the Utah Academy of Family Physicians.

They shared a statement with FOX 13 News Friday, saying they have some concerns about Governor Spencer Cox's decision.

They say, in part, "With the reduction in places for testing, that burden will fall on our providers that are already stretched thin."

Utah Academy of Family Physicians statement
Utah Academy of Family Physicians statement

The physicians group goes on to say in their statement, "If we are concerned that those who end up with serious symptoms, or if we see another upsurge, we will see our health care systems overwhelmed again."

While sites across the state, like the Maverik Center, saw long lines a month ago during the surge of the Omicron Variant, state health officials say the demand has tapered off.

READ: Utah opens 2 new high-volume COVID-19 testing sites due to overwhelming demand

"Some of those that were brought in were related to the CDC,”said Nate Checketts, Executive Director for the Utah Department of Health. “They brought in two additional sites for us at the University of Utah and Utah Valley, both of those sites will be closing,"

In all, the Utah Department of Health says seven sites are closing down by the end of the week.

For those who use the testing sites, like the Dawn-Block family, they say this transition is coming too soon.

"I don't think we should start closing things down and spinning our wheels until we know for sure that that's the phase we're in and that we have the infrastructure to make sure that testing still is easy, free and accessible to everyone who needs it," Dawn said.

The Utah Department of Health says it will still step in and help if COVID-19 outbreaks occur. That would include providing additional testing and support.