Requests for COVID-19 tests jump, leading to long wait in line

Sep 1, 2021, 5:58 PM | Updated: 9:42 pm
covid-19 tests utahn died...
File Photo: A long line line of cars waiting for COVID-19 testing in the parking lot across the street from the UDOH main offices. Photo credit: Paul Nelson, August 30, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — People receiving COVID-19 tests are reporting very long lines at testing sites this week.  Health officials say they’ve partnered with a new company to handle those tests, and they saw a large unexpected jump in the number of people who wanted one.

The Utah Department of Health said it can only take an educated guess when it comes to the number of people seeking COVID-19 tests at any one of their facilities across the state.  They base their guess on the number of people who came in the previous weeks, combined with the current rate of infection.

Request for COVID-19 tests on the rise in Utah

Spokesperson Charla Haley said just over 7,400 people were tested last week, and fewer than 7,200 came for a test the week prior.

“The week before that was 5,727.  We didn’t estimate there would be that many people seeking testing all at the same time,” said Haley.

This week, however, technicians at testing centers saw an unanticipated jump in the number of people asking for an exam.

“We saw 12,974 people who were tested,” according to Haley, just this Tuesday.

Haley said there could be a few factors behind this increase.  Summer breaks have ended and more people are available for testing.  And schools and other institutions across the state have been asking for increased testing.

Her personal belief? “I think people are feeling ill, and they want to get tested and find out what it is.”

Utah health officials will step in to help

The state has recently outsourced a lot of the testing responsibilities to Nomi Health, the company that owns TestUtah.  Haley said they entered into this agreement because they anticipated they’d need more workers to handle a major increase in tests at other locations.

“We pulled them off, thinking we would need a lot more testing at the schools and different facilities that were asking for testing,” she said.

The increase in test demand placed Nomi Health under tremendous strain, she said. So, UDOH will be helping Nomi to handle any staffing issues that arise.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, 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.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • 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 Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

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


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