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Utah to get more rapid COVID-19 tests

Posted at 2:42 PM, Oct 27, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — The federal government will be sending Utah 960,000 more rapid COVID-19 tests to be used at long-term care facilities and other places where needed.

The Trump administration announced on Monday that Utah was on the list of states getting the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 point of care antigen tests. They can give results in as little as 15 minutes using a less invasive nasal swab.

"The U.S. government has told us we can expect around a million of these tests to the state of Utah. So far we’ve received around 200,000," said Joe Dougherty, a spokesman for Utah's Department of Public Safety, which oversees the governor's COVID-19 Unified Command. "Those have been sent to the state of Utah’s distribution center and then from there we send them out to local emergency managers, local health departments and other places where they need a supply of rapid tests."

The tests are not as reliable as the current nasal swab, but can give an indication that someone is positive without having to wait so long for a traditional test result. The state still prefers that people who are symptomatic for COVID-19 and test negative still get a nasal swab test to be sure.

Utah's COVID-19 Unified Command intends to give the tests out to local health departments where they are needed most. So far, that has been long-term facilities where staffers can be tested to protect vulnerable residents. The federal government said it also intended for them to be used at universities, schools and homeless shelters.

The tests are not to be considered a substitute for current health guidelines, which include physical distancing — staying at least 6-feet from others — avoiding social gatherings, good hygiene and wearing face coverings in public.