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Staffing a concern as COVID-19 test sites struggle to meet high demand

Posted at 9:14 PM, Jan 06, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY — Test Utah sites continue to break records every day as more and more Utahns join the long lines to learn their results.

Just as the community is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, so are Test Utah employees. The rise in respiratory viruses doesn’t help when there’s already a limited amount of staff to keep up with the demand.

“We do have a high amount of callouts due to positive tests,” said Viet Le, state director for Nomi Health. “A lot of them will get tested on site and then they can’t be on-site for about five to ten days.”

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Nomi Health is hiring around 120 employees each week so they have enough staff to test all cars.

“They have been working through the snow, through the storm, through the rain and cold weather,” said Le. “They are really good champions for our cause right now.”

Le said they can use all the help they can get. They have law enforcement working overtime to direct traffic and even help swab people in line.

“Ever since Thanksgiving it hasn’t stopped,” he said. “Every day we’re breaking a new record on total volumes for the day. Right now, we’re seeing on average above 15-thousand patients a day.”

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He said they’ve also brought in people from out of state to help out.

“We’ve had several instances and several situations where we’ve had to do that to make sure we get folks in within 48 hours,” he said.

Right now, the average Test Utah wait time is one and a half to two hours. Le said they’ve also seen a slight increase in test result turnaround times.

“We were average about 20 hours, now we’re about 22 to 23 hours,” he said. “So we’re still on the 24 hour window for the most part.”