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Utah COVID-19 testing sees longer wait times and fewer appointment slots in wake of case surge

Posted at 8:48 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 23:25:07-05

SALT LAKE CITY — As COVID-19 cases go up, so does the number of tests needing to be done in the state of Utah.

“In the last 7-14 days… The last few weeks have really brought more people seeking testing,” Nicholas Rupp with the Salt Lake County Health Department told FOX 13. “It can be challenging to meet the demands. So far, we are able to do so, but I don’t know how much longer we can accommodate everyone who needs a test.”

That was a sentiment echoed by Dr. Michael Bronson with University of Utah Health.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure were offering as many appointments as we feel we can safely," Bronson said.

Different testing locations across Utah are facing different things, from lack of appointments to long wait times.

This report isn’t meant to point the finger at any one organization, person or method, but instead to highlight how testing will inevitably become more difficult on everyone as cases go up.

FOX 13 reached out on our social media pages and found a lot of people experiencing similar things such as: "Testing sites were scheduled days out or didn't have any available times to test" and "Just tried today. Only thing for the next week is in [Park City], 36 hours later.”

Others said they had little issues with testing, but a large number of people within the last two weeks we spoke with experienced some issues.

One of them was Jordan Ferguson.

“We were told that it was a long line, but it ended up taking about 3 hours," he said.

Ferguson made an appointment for a week out with his family because a COVID-19 exposure. After getting there at around 11 a.m., he said he didn’t leave till after 1 p.m.

He said some people in line decided not to wait at all.

“Four or five different cars in front of me decided to either pull around forward and leave or turn around and leave another way because the wait was just too long," he said.

It's not just those getting tests who are frustrated, but those giving them are also tired from the large increase in cases and testing.

“They are dedicated, but they are tired… And they are in some cases working six or seven days a week and 10 or 12 hours a day,” Rupp said. “And that has been in some cases going on for six or seven months.”

Health professionals are asking those who have not been exposed and don’t have symptoms to not schedule appointments, which will keep lines down.

In addition, Rupp asked that Utahns comply with public health recommendations. Bronson also urged the importance of reducing the spread.

"We hope that the testing capacity can keep up and the relaxing of the new case numbers or even a decrease in the coming months," Bronson said.