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State leaders consider changing qualifications for receiving a COVID-19 test, amid rising cases

Posted at 10:07 PM, Nov 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 00:07:02-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Almost one in five Utahns tested for COVID-19 came back with a positive result this week.

On Thursday, the seven-day average positive test rate hit a record high 19.5 percent. Infectious disease physicians say that indicates a high number of people with the virus aren’t getting tested, oftentimes by those who are asymptomatic.

“It was the weirdest thing,” said Erica Efron.

Before a scheduled surgery in June, Efron took a precautionary COVID-19 test. To her surprise, it was positive.

“I thought how could I be because I had no symptoms, nothing,” Efron said.

The 56-year-old says she felt just fine but still isolated and postponed surgery until September.

“They had me test again and I was positive again. No symptoms,” Efron said about the test she took 87 days after the first test.

“It’s definitely a big feature of this virus which is why we are so far behind getting control of it,” said infectious disease Dr. Todd Vento.

Studies show up to 70 percent of COVID infections can be asymptomatic.

“I do believe that testing is key to finding out who has the virus,“ said Governor Gary Herbert in a press conference Thursday.

Right now, the state’s testing website, requires symptoms to qualifying for a test. After a meeting with the White House Task Force last weekend, state leaders are considering strategic and rapid testing in Utah.

“The thought is that we really need to find out how much asymptomatic or even mild, but in particular asymptomatic infections, how many do we have,” said Dr. Vento.

Dr. Vento argues testing isn’t the only way out of the pandemic, but adds asymptomatic infections are a major reason to continue physically distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

"You don’t really know. There are lot of people who are asymptomatic,” said Efron.

Governor Herbert said he will announce possible testing changes next week.