State Wants More Utahns Tested For Coronavirus

Apr 14, 2020, 11:09 PM | Updated: Apr 15, 2020, 12:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – State health officials continued their plea for people with mild symptoms of the novel coronavirus to be tested as the rate of confirmed cases and the number of tests administered decreases.

“We don’t know if the prevalence is indeed decreasing,” said Dr. Richard Orlandi, chief medical officer at Ambulatory Health at the University of Utah. “The decrease in testing has been a bit of a head-scratcher.”

From the beginning health officials in the state and across the country have identified fever, cough and shortness of breath as the symptoms most associated with COVID-19. In the early stages of its spread in Utah, state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn told Utahns to largely stay home if they exhibited those symptoms due to a lack of testing capabilities.

“Our testing capacity increased drastically, so we changed our message,” Dunn said in Tuesday’s daily COVID-19 press conference.

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Dunn also announced the state had tested more than 46,476 people — just 689 more than Monday. That’s well below the state’s ability to test thousands a day.

In response to fewer people heading to the drive-through testing sites, Dunn added three more symptoms to the list: sore throat, muscle aches or a decreased sense of taste or smell. Any one of those symptoms, even a mild form, was enough for anyone to get tested.

“It is crucial for us to understand everybody who has COVID-19, no matter how mild the symptoms,” Dunn said. “And now we have capacity.”

“It’s really a lifesaving move if we can identify people earlier and isolate them to be able to prevent the spread of this disease,” Orlandi said.

Orlandi said the classic definition of a fever is 100.4 degrees. But he said even if you have a temperature of 100 degrees to get tested. And the same goes for a new or worsening cough.

“If it’s more than just that casual throat-clearing cough. If it’s ongoing for a day or two or it’s worsening, we certainly would want to get that person tested,” he said.

KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega was tested Tuesday. He was one of a handful of people that selected to get testing without symptoms. But as a state, officials said we are not to the point where anyone should just head to the testing tents.

“It risks a false sense of security if we test people too early and they’re negative and then a couple of days later become positive. We want to prevent that,” Orlandi said.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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State Wants More Utahns Tested For Coronavirus