Easier, less invasive COVID-19 testing coming to Utah

Aug 20, 2020, 6:31 PM | Updated: 6:31 pm

(Photo Credit: University of Utah Health)

(Photo Credit: University of Utah Health)

SALT LAKE COUNTY – Changes are coming to COVID-19 testing sites run by the University of Utah and ARUP.  They’re switching to a saliva sample-based test, which they say is safer and not nearly as invasive as the nasal swabs they currently use. 

Researchers at ARUP and University of Utah Health used samples from over 360 volunteers getting tested for the virus.  Each patient was asked to go through three separate exams to see which was most effective.

  1. The traditional nasal swab performed by a lab technician
  2. A nasal swab self-collected by the patient
  3. A self-collected saliva sample

Researchers say the results from the self-collected nasal swabs were not as effective as the other methods.  However, the University of Utah Infectious Disease Doctor Kimberly Hanson says the results were very promising from the saliva samples.

She says, “Saliva looks to be just as effective as the standard deep swabs.”

If you have ever been tested for COVID-19 or for the flu, you know how uncomfortable the test can be.  A lab technician shoves a long swab all the way back into your nose. 

The technician has to be close to the potentially infected patient, and the test makes many people cough or gag.  However, with a saliva sample, the lab worker can wait behind plexiglass while the patient simply spits into a tube with the testing solution inside.

“It’s easier to collect and it’s probably safer for the health care worker as well because spitting saliva into a tube is less likely to generate infectious aerosols,” Hanson says.

With this new kind of testing, lab workers won’t have to wear heavy layers of personal protective equipment according to ARUP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julio Delgado.  The results of their shared study have been peer-reviewed ad published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology

However, Delgado says there likely won’t be a home version of this test.

“At this point, the FDA only authorizes saliva testing if the sample is collected in a health care facility or is being observed by a health care worker,” he says.

The new testing system isn’t quite ready for the general public.  Doctor Richard Orlandi with the University of Utah Health says they expect to have it ready to go by mid-September, at the latest.

“We anticipate having this in the next two to three weeks available at our testing sites,” says Orlandi.



Gov. Herbert issues new emergency declaration for COVID-19

COVID-19 and the economy the focus of Utah legislative special session

Utah sets pandemic safeguards for people with disabilities

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


The Delta Center and the skyline in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Jazz owner Ryan Smith...

Michael Camit

SLC’s Main Street redesign is open to suggestions from disabled Utahns

With proposals for the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City, ADA experts want to hear from disabled Utahns.

12 hours ago

Suicide Rock in Parley's Canyon in 2023, before the myrtle spurge was sprayed with treatment....

Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Roundup sprayed via drone in Millcreek, Parley’s canyons to kill invasive weed. DWR says it’s needed

In an attempt to kill weeds, the Department of Wildlife Resources sprayed pesticides in the foothills of Millcreek and Parley’s canyons.

14 hours ago

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

1 day ago

Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Josh Scharman conducts the grand opening of the Community Connections...

Eric Cabrera

Social workers with Salt Lake Police Department are responding to more callers than ever

The Community Connection Center social workers who work with the Salt Lake Police Department are getting an increase in mental health-related calls, as a result they have grown their team to able to respond to more.

2 days ago

the us house of representatives shown at the capitol, the house passed a bill about sodium nitrite...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

House passes bill to ban a compound used in suicides

Legislation backed by Rep. Celeste Maloy would ban the consumer sale of sodium nitrite, a product becoming increasingly common in suicides.

2 days ago

Sunscreen for cancer prevention...

Don Brinkerhoff

Utah oncologist talks cancer prevention ahead of Memorial Day

Huntsman Center Oncologist, Dr. Theresa Werner talks about the importance of cancer prevention during skin cancer awareness month.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Easier, less invasive COVID-19 testing coming to Utah