Utah moves forward in ‘steady state response’ to COVID-19, closing test sites

Mar 28, 2022, 6:05 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2022, 8:44 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Two years ago, Utah started ramping up COVID-19 testing as fast as possible. Now, starting Friday, many testing sites run by the Utah Department of Health will close permanently. Testing is still an important tool, according to the health department. But, big changes are coming to the way it’s managed.

Two months ago, as the omicron variant spread through Utah communities, the demand for COVID-19 testing was so high that people waited in line for hours. But, demand dropped off quickly, and the Utah Department of Health will transition to a long-term testing response, what Utah calls a Steady State response.

“It’s time to transition to a more regular way of dealing with COVID-19,” said Charla Haley, a public information officer with the Utah Department of Health.

COVID-19 is not gone yet. Since Friday, 255 people tested positive in Utah out of more than 6800 people tested. Four people have also died since Friday from COVID-19.

But, the Utah Department of Health will begin managing the virus more like the seasonal flu. Many state-sponsored testing sites will close Thursday and some will transition to private, for-profit vendors.

“Demand is down,” Haley said. “So, we have quite a few sites where they maybe get 25 people in a day. It’s just not the best bang for our buck at this time.”

The state will also no longer cover the cost of testing, or offer travel testing after Thursday.

“It will be a big transition, and probably the biggest change is no travel testing,” Haley said.

If you think you need to get tested, before you visit a testing site, the first stop online is still the state’s COVID-19 testing website.

“Go to coronavirus.utah.gov and click on the tab that says where can I get tested.”

If you’re going to visit someone who is vulnerable, or you’ve been sick and want to confirm you are negative, get tested. Those who work with vulnerable populations should also get tested if they’re feeling sick.

“If you get sick and have symptoms, meaning a fever, sore throat runny nose not feeling well, and you can stay home from work please stay home,” Haley said.

Click here before visiting a testing site for the most up-to-date information on operating hours, types of tests offered at each site, associated costs, who may be tested at the site, etc.

Wednesday, the state department of health plans to talk more about this next phase of COVID-19 response. You can still order free at-home tests from the federal government by clicking here.

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Utah moves forward in ‘steady state response’ to COVID-19, closing test sites