COVID-19 Testing Demand Up, Capacity Unchanged

Nov 19, 2020, 9:16 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2020, 7:48 am

OGDEN, Utah – Getting a COVID-19 test may be more difficult than ever in Utah as demand is spiking, and finding a test site with an open time slot is getting more difficult.

In some cases, University of Utah Health officials are asking people to try some of the Test Utah sites that might have more availability.

If Utahns aren’t willing to look around, they could end up waiting a day or two.

Much like hospital beds, health officials can’t offer more tests if they don’t have the people to give them.

“We’re pretty much at our capacity at the current staffing levels we have and with the indoor testing as well, and being able to do that safely,” said Michael Bronson from University Health.

Michael Bronson with University Health said they are hiring more people so they can expand their COVID-19 testing capabilities. (Mike Anderson/KSL-TV)

He said they’ve already hired about 100 people to get more tests done. However, much like other providers around the state, University Health has moved to appointment only and they can only book two days out. 

“We only schedule appointments out two days in advance. So if you got on this morning to find an appointment, you might find some for today and you probably see a lot for tomorrow, but then you wouldn’t see any more,” he added. “Because we feel like it’s important if you need a test that you go find a test, right? And not something five days out.”

If you can’t get one with them you will need to look around or try your family doctor.

Intermountain Healthcare has the same limitations, though they do have plans to increase testing to 5,000 per day within the coming weeks.

Keep in mind, you’re not likely to get a test unless you have symptoms.

“Since we are capacity-constrained, we are prioritizing the symptomatic individuals and then contact-tracing individuals, so you don’t necessarily need a doctor’s note, per se,” Bronson said. “Because we feel like with the limited capacity that we have, that is the best way that we can help to sort of quell the community spread by identifying the people that are most likely to have the virus.”

Aside from student-testing, your only likely options if you’re asymptomatic include:

  • Waiting five to seven days after you’ve been exposed. The virus can take that long to show up.
  • Get a note from a school district or health department.
  • If you still insist and can’t schedule a test, you’ll likely have to pay for it yourself.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced plans to expand testing by five-times what the state is seeing now. It’s not clear how that will be done, but will likely include finding more partners for Test Utah and finding ways to help some of the bigger providers.

It takes about one to two days to get the test results.

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Luanne Monson

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COVID-19 Testing Demand Up, Capacity Unchanged