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.

Today’s Top Stories


A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
3 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
3 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
3 days ago
Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...
Waverly Golden

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to more job opportunities.
3 days ago
FILE - A doctor loads a dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at ...
Aimee Cobabe

Bill banning vaccine passports heading to Utah Senate

A bill to ban vaccine passports is heading out of the Utah House and into the Utah Senate. The bill is similar to a failed bill from 2022.
7 days ago
A bill on transgender healthcare — banning transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV and Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Utah Senate approves changes to transgender care bill, passes on to Gov. Cox

SB16 bans gender-confirming surgeries for minors and also places a moratorium on puberty blockers for minors.
10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Easier, less invasive COVID-19 testing coming to Utah