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COVID-19 test demand increases wait times

Posted at 7:19 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 21:19:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Roughly 5,500 Utahns are being tested for COVID-19 each day, up significantly since the spring.

The increase in demand is straining testing sites and, in some cases, making people wait longer to find out if they have the virus or not.

Two-year-old Noah Foster needed to take a COVID-19 test after a worker at his daycare tested positive. His father Greg felt like he should get one, too.

“Better safe than sorry kind of a scenario,” said Greg Foster.

Because of insurance requirements, Noah went to Intermountain Health’s InstaCare. Greg waited in line for two hours to get a test through a University of Utah Wellness bus.

“My main thing was the anxiety. The fear of the unknown,” said Greg.

Greg never did get his results and was told if he was positive, they’d let him know.

It took four days to get Noah’s test back last week.

“He eventually tested negative but those four days were incredibly anxiety inducing,” said Greg.

“We are seeing a very dramatic uptick in the number of people who want to get tested at our sites,” said University of Utah Health’s Michael Bronson.

University of Utah Health is testing roughly 50 percent more people than they first expected, which causes longer lines and wait times.

“They are getting slammed and we are doing our very best to accommodate as many people as possible, but it’s a challenge for us right now,” said Bronson.

Their test results are still coming in between 24-48 hours, but staff admit they need to hire more testers to help expedite the process.

“We all want that instantaneous result which hopefully over time we will all be able to figure out,” said Test Utah COO Josh Walker.

Test Utah’s result turnaround jumped from 37 hours to nearly 60 hours this past weekend.

The state-sponsored testing program is also scaling up to keep results coming within three days.

“Waiting three days is great, but man, that’s three days of wondering and waiting and self isolating, and some individuals don’t have the opportunity to wait that long,” Walker said.

For Greg Foster, he’s thankful the tests are negative but says the experience itself was stressful.