Gephardt: State frustrated about lack of coronavirus tests

By Matt Gephardt, KSL TV | Posted - Mar. 13, 2020 at 9:01 a.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — State officials have expressed frustrations in getting coronavirus tests, but said the situation was getting better.

The Utah Coronavirus Task Force piled on to what Lt. Governor Spencer Cox called, “well-documented frustrations” at a press conference Thursday around noon.

Health officials around the country have struggled to get enough testing kits from the federal government. Cox said the lack of tests have created a planning hurdle in the state.

“Getting testing supplies from the federal government has been a slow process,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t have the most accurate information.”

At last count, a mere 136 patients have been tested by the state’s lab, with another 24 in the queue, task force officials said. The CDC has only tested 18 Utahns.

They were low numbers, to be sure, but the silver lining for those needing tests was that the private sector is coming to the rescue.

“I am pleased to report that ARUP Laboratories tested 100 individuals yesterday alone,” Cox said.

The task force expected ARUP’s numbers will be climbing to 500 individual tests per day.

KSL has confirmed that other local labs have also been developing tests which will need to be certified by federal officials

Frustrations aside, Cox seems to see the ability of Utahns to be tested as glass-half-full, and getting fuller.

“We are on a good trajectory that will allow us to test far more,” he said.

Beyond the obvious need to figure out who has the disease, having large test samples is important for what’s called “surveillance testing.” It lets health officials identify clusters of the pandemic and work quickly to try and contain it or slow it down.

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