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University of Utah Health Transitions COVID-19 Testing Indoors

University of Utah Health will begin transitioning to COVID-19 testing indoors on November 11, 2020.

Utah's changing climate prompted U of U Health to transition to indoor testing. "Working in the heat of summer helped us realize that a long-term outdoor testing solution was not in our employees' best interest," says Richard Orlandi, MD, associate chief medical officer for ambulatory health at University of Utah Health. "Having all of our testing outdoors put a significant strain on our staff—above and beyond the strain they're under just doing COVID-19 testing." Testing indoors ensures U of U Health provides the best quality of care to our patients. This will allow health care workers to better evaluate patients during influenza, strep, and cold season.

At the start of the pandemic, University of Utah Health clinical teams began testing patients for COVID-19 outdoors as a fast and efficient method. During that time, testing protocols have evolved. In September, U of U Health collaborated with ARUP to provide a safer and less invasive saliva COVID-19 test for patients. U of U Health then moved to appointment-only testing to help reduce long lines and relieve stress on staff. The new move to COVID-19 testing indoors will give patients more options by expanding to all U of U Health centers.

Residents in Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, and Utah counties can now get tested in their communities through U of U Health. "Testing will be more convenient for patients and will also level out the volume of testing across our system, reducing the demand on any one site," Orlandi says. "Combined with appointments, this will create a safer flow of testing."

The process to get tested for COVID-19 may look different at each of our 12 U of U Health centers, but safety protocols will remain the same.

  • Self-collected saliva testing helps U of U Health move testing indoors safely. Saliva testing limits patient-to-employee contact and reduces transmission of the virus through the air. Saliva tests do not generate aerosolized particles like deep nasal swabbing.
  • All patients are required to schedule an appointment for COVID-19 testing. Appointments will help prevent indoor crowding, control physical distancing, and limit patient contact.
  • All patients and visitors must wear a face covering inside all U of U Health centers. Scientific evidence has shown that face coverings help prevent people from spreading COVID-19.
  • Designated waiting and collection areas separate respiratory patients inside U of U Health centers. These areas are managed to hold a minimal number of patients to ensure proper physical distancing. Individual collection areas allow for safe specimen collection during COVID-19 testing.
  • Strict cleaning guidelines approved by Infection Prevention & Control are followed by U of U Health's environmental services team. Patient areas are thoroughly cleaned following every COVID-19 testing appointment. This includes waiting areas, collection areas, and items used during COVID-19 testing.
  • U of U Health continues to invest in innovation to provide additional safety measures to better protect patients from the virus. HEPA filter booths placed in each collection area will assist in safe specimen collection during testing.

U of U Health leaders say they expect to continue to adjust and adapt safety as testing protocols evolve and as experts continue to learn more about the virus. "We are committed to uphold our promise of quality health care to all patients," Orlandi said.