Utah testing site faces staff and rapid test shortage: ‘We haven’t seen this kind of demand since November and December’

Local News

LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) – The Delta variant’s high transmissibility is leading to thousands of Utahns being tested for COVID-19 daily. This surge is now putting a strain on supply and staff for testing sites across the country, including one location in Northern Utah.

Depending on the day and time, staff at Tanner Clinic in Layton say the line people wait in to get tested for the coronavirus can be extremely long.

“We haven’t seen this kind of demand since November and December, so there is definitely a high demand for testing and people sometimes coming and waiting for hours in line,” says Dr. Candice Smith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the clinic.

The clinic’s Layton and Clinton locations both offer rapid COVID-19 testing, which takes about 15 minutes for a person to get test results.

“Everybody would like that fast test,” Dr. Smith explains.  

But with high demand for the rapid test, she said there are not enough tests right now for everyone to get it.

“It’s also in short supply because they stopped making that test in the summer,” Dr. Smith says. “They did not realize the immense, huge surge that would happen secondary to that Delta variant.”

However, she states the community doesn’t need to worry, as they have other tests that offer results within hours and a day.

“We have a backup solution for that so that’s nice to say, ‘We’ll take care of you, it will just take longer to get those results that you want,’” Dr. Smith says.

A shortage in healthcare workers, Smith tells ABC4, is also causing delays.

“If we had full staffing, we could open every one of our clinics to get lots of COVID tests done and lots more answers to the community,” she says.

Whether a person is waiting in line or for their test result, she asks for people to be patient and kind to COVID testers.

“The public is so irritated by the time they’re ready to be tested. They’re just so mean,” Dr. Smith says. “If we had full staffing, we could open every one of our clinics to get lots of COVID tests done and lots more answers to the community, but that staffing is not available.”

With the return to school and mask mandates having been lifted, Dr. Smith says more children are getting sick.

“We feel like we’re having pediatric winter,” she says. “And what that means is if your child gets sick, yes it can be the common cold; yes it could be COVID; yes it could be strep; yes it could be CROOP; yes it could be several other viruses going around right now that we don’t usually see until January or February.”

With children susceptible to a variety of illnesses right now, Dr. Smith says it makes her concerned as to what will happen this winter.

“These viruses they really don’t like circulate in this weather, so what are they going to do when they are in their happy environment?” she says.

Dr. Smith hopes people will have their students get vaccinated (if eligible) or wear a mask to school.

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