State audit says Utahns are not getting their COVID-19 test results fast enough

Aug 5, 2020, 7:02 PM | Updated: 7:46 pm
health order...
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
(Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Many Utahns have complained about waiting days to get their COVID-19 test results. The OLAG-audit-of-COVID-19-test-times from the Office of the Legislative Auditor General says they were not alone. 

One reason for the confusion is people are being told conflicting things about when to expect their test results.

“We also found inconsistencies in messaging surrounding test turnaround times, with
one state official saying it should be 24 hours, while a health expert said it was expected to
be less than 72 hours,” the report said. 

The audit found the average time between when a test is processed and the results sent to a provider is 1.6 days. 

However, it takes some labs over three days to process a test. 

Another reason for those delays is that labs have been swamped with tests in recent weeks. 

But Senior Audit Supervisor Jesse Martinson says while testing capabilities are improving, once those results come back, providers have not been sharing them quickly with people, if at all. 

“They try to get in contact with the patient within 24 hours [of a positive test result]. However, they don’t contact people who have a negative result at all,” Martinson said. 

State Senate President Stuart Adams, who had COVID-19, says the delay in giving people results is too difficult for many families. 

“If you’re asking them to stay home for a week, it’s actually an economic or social hardship for them. For those 5-10% who are positive, if they’re out spreading the virus we will never get on top of this,” Adams said. 

The audit made five recommendations to speed up Utah’s COVID-19 testing and reporting:   

1. We recommend the Governor’s Office, in collaboration with the Department of
Health, formally establish a goal for both COVID-19 test processing times and
complete turnaround times.
2. We recommend the Department of Health officially convene a commission to
determine the feasibility of collecting and publishing complete turnaround times,
time from swab to patient notification of COVID-19 test results.
3. We recommend the Department of Health study the feasibility of publicly
posting test processing times by lab and geographic location on the website.
4. We recommend the Department of Health work with labs and providers to share
best practices that could result in greater efficiencies to reduce test turnaround
5. We recommend the Department of Health review the feasibility of creating a
system to shift test samples from backlogged labs to labs with greater capacity.

State leaders and the Department of Health say they agree with all of the recommendations in the audit. 


Related Links:

New York nurses arrive in Utah to help treat COVID-19 patients

Is Utah ready for when a coronavirus vaccine is available?

Utah updates rental assistance program during COVID-19 pandemic

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19-Utah response

BYU study COVID money...
Martha Harris

BYU study says ‘going cashless was useless’ during height of pandemic

Many businesses went to a cash-only model at the start of the pandemic. A recent BYU study found the effort made little impact.
2 months ago
Flags are ordered to be lowered...
Amie Schaeffer

Flags lowered to honor lives lost to COVID-19

In accordance with an order from President Biden, Gov. Cox authorized flags lowered through May 16. The order is meant to honor lives lost to the virus.
2 months ago
Utah national parks no longer have a mask mandate...
Chandler Holt

Masks no longer required in national parks

Since a federal judge struck down the CDC's transportation mask mandate, guests in national parks can choose if they'd like to wear a mask or not.
3 months ago
Photo of two 'mask required' signs...
Associated Press

CDC to extend federal travel mask mandate

CDC to extend travel mask mandate for two weeks to monitor uptick in COVID-19 cases.
3 months ago
Utah begings using wastewater to track components of the COVID-19 virus in communities...
Dan Bammes

Monitoring COVID-19 virus in Utah through wastewater

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is monitoring levels of the COVID-19 virus components in sewage at wastewater treatment plants across the state. While it’s a useful early warning system, Utah’s state epidemiologist says it’s just one of the tools they have for monitoring COVID-19 infections in the community. Last year, when the Delta variant showed […]
3 months ago
(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters.  Photo: Paul Nels...
Paul Nelson

Federal health officials investigating Utah-based company over COVID-19 testing

A Utah-based company is being investigating for claims of substandard conditions at COVID-19 testing sites.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
State audit says Utahns are not getting their COVID-19 test results fast enough