SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and University of Utah Health will begin random selection testing of COVID-19 at households in several counties in Utah.

In a press release issued by the school, the Utah HERO (Health & Economic Recovery Outreach), will be testing 10,000 Utahns across four counties and the data will help assist the state as they continue to make decisions to keep the communities safe and get people working again.

Households in Utah, Davis, Salt Lake, and Summit counties will be randomly selected for participation in the study which is an accurate way determine how much COVID-19 has spread in Utah without testing every person in the state.

Utah HERO team members will notify the households selected with a flyer or door hanger explaining the project. Field teams will do a personal visit to obtain information about how those living in the home can get tested. Anyone 12 years old and older will be asked to go to a testing facility for two test: PCR (swab test to detect presence of coronavirus) and serology (blood draw to detect antibodies).

“A survey of this magnitude would normally take months to organize, but we’ve been able to move things forward in a couple of weeks thanks to all of our collaborators,” said Stephen Alder, Ph.D., director of field operations for Utah HERO and professor in the U of U Department of Family and Preventative Medicine. “The University of Utah is committed to serving the state during this difficult time and we hope this information will help our leaders make informed public health and business decisions.”

The U of U Health’s Wellness Bus and Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Cancer Screening bus will be set up in designated neighborhoods to serve as test sites. As well as at U of U Health tents, and pop-up locations at various church parking lots.

Testing will be performed at ARUP Laboratories, which does all COVID-19 testing for U of U Health along with other clients in Utah and nationwide. Testing is completely confidential and no information on immigration status will be collected.

Utah HERO data will be used establish the rate of infection as well as decipher rates of the virus in various age groups and job categories. This will help indicate where COVID-19 has spread, which occupations and other groups are most impacted, and how many undetected infections are occurring.

Undetected infections can occur in people have mild symptoms or no symptoms, or because of differences in testing.

“Utah HERO represents the critical balance between protecting public health and moving the economy forward,” said Taylor Randall, dean of the David Eccles School of Business. “This information will help us better understand how COVID-19 has spread through our community and inform business leaders on the best, data-driven ways to get people back into the workforce safely.”

Utah HERO was contracted to the U of U through the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

“This study is important because it is the first initiative to gain an understanding of statewide COVID-19 prevalence in Utah,” said Angela Dunn, M.D., state epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health. “This random sampling allows us to see a representative picture of the extent to which COVID-19 has spread in our community. This will enable us to make informed decisions about how to best move forward.”

Additional details about Utah HERO:

  • The project will begin sampling small numbers of households then scale up over a period of weeks.
  • Survey participants do not pay for testing and do not need to show proof of insurance.
  • Survey participants do not need to show ID or proof of residency.
  • Those reporting symptoms will be instructed on safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Those with positive test results will be notified and given instructions on how to quarantine and prevent spread of the disease within households.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has generously provided parking lot space for additional testing sites.

Other Utah HERO collaborators include:

  • ARUP
  • Utah Department of Health
  • Salt Lake County Health Department
  • Summit County Health Department
  • Davis County Health Department
  • Utah County Health Department
  • Staffing for Utah HERO field teams is made possible by Hope Corps, a non-profit organization that connects students to opportunities to serve in the state of Utah and help support the economy.

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