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U of U Health opens more coronavirus testing facilities in northern Utah

Hospital employees take swabs from people at an appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility set up outside University of Utah Health’s South Jordan Health Center on Friday, March 13, 2020. Although the testing facility wasn’t open to the public on Friday, the people were tested anyway. The facility will be operational Monday. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

WASATCH FRONT – The number of people who can be access testing for COVID-19 coronavirus is going to go way up in Utah.  The University of Utah and ARUP Laboratories are opening more drive-up testing centers, and they say more centers are coming soon.

Hospital officials announced four centers are now open in Salt Lake and Davis counties.  University of Utah Health CEO Dr. Michael Good says drive-up testing facilities are placed in their Sugarhouse, Farmington, South Jordan and Redwood facilities, and they’re planning to open another in Park City by the end of the week.  Collectively, these centers can handle 1,500 tests, per day, and officials are working to make them be able to handle even more patients.

Good says, “It continues to add instrumentation and anticipates a capacity of more than 3,000 COVID tests a day.”

However, Good says that increase depends on their supply lines staying steady.  Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Richard Orlandi, says patients are still being asked to call ahead of time, so people at emergency rooms and hospitals aren’t exposed to the virus.

“The whole process is done while the patient is in the car.  It preserves our ability to use a smaller amount of personal protective equipment and also minimizes the inconvenience to our patient,” Orlandi says.

However, even though more coronavirus testing in Utah will become available, some people will be turned away.  Doctor Kim Hansen with ARUP says they’re focusing their testing on people already hospitalized and people showing serious symptoms.

“We are looking closely at respiratory symptoms, though… cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing,” Hansen says.  “Those who are asymptomatic will not qualify for testing.  For those with mild cold-like symptoms, there will be some clinician judgment used at the time.”

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Utah COVID-19 questions: State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn

 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavurus Q&A Ask your questions to the experts every day from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m.

State of Utah:  https://coronavirus.utah.gov/

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States