HEALTH

Health officials will significantly ‘ramp down’ the number of COVID-19 tests they offer

Mar 30, 2022, 6:35 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:40 pm

(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters.  Photo: Paul Nels...

(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters. Photo: Paul Nelson, March 30, 2022)

(A testing site operated by Nomi Health across the street from UDOH headquarters. Photo: Paul Nelson, March 30, 2022)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s good news and bad news about Utah’s COVID-19 picture.  Health officials say the number of new cases and hospitalizations is on the decline, but the Utah Department of Health will ramp down the number of COVID tests being offered to the public.

Ramp down COVID tests

The latest rolling seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Utah is 114 per day, with 133 new cases being reported Wednesday.  With these numbers dropping, health officials have announced they are significantly decreasing the number of COVID-19 tests they’re going to administer.  Health officials say at the end Thursday, essentially all state-sponsored testing at their sites will stop.  Officials say some sites will become privately run, while others will be reserved for low-income Utahns.

“I think we’ll have a couple different venues and opportunities for low-income individuals and communities to continue to get tested in this ‘steady state’ environment,” said UDOH Executive Director Nate Checketts.

If cases go up, so will testing

He says the state will ramp up testing if they see another spike in cases. However, he believes more Utahns have a higher level of protection against the virus than before.  However, with the free tests being discontinued, people will have to arrange their own tests. Travelers will have to plan ahead.

Checketts said, “We’ve generally seen the cost, depending on test type, have ran from around $60 to $250.”

Officials are also discontinuing their daily COVID-19 updates, opting to release their latest numbers once a week.  State Epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen says they still have effective ways to monitor COVID-19 trends across the state, including hospitalizations and wastewater research.  She says people should still prepare for more cases to spread into Utah.

Nolen said, “I think we all expect there will be additional waves.  We will have new variants of COVID coming through and our communities will need to be aware of that.”

Plus, she believes too few Utahns have received their vaccination booster shots.

“We have under 30 percent of our population boosted, and we know that’s really important to protect,” Nolen said.

She says the state is also changing how they examine COVID-19 related deaths, opting to use death certificates to evaluate them.  Nolen says the state’s medical examiner has re-examined their death certificate records and have found only 73 deaths were accidentally attributed to COVID-19.

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Health officials will significantly ‘ramp down’ the number of COVID-19 tests they offer