SALT LAKE CITY – As Utah transitions to a “steady state,” COVID-19 test sites begin to close throughout the state.
For Jennifer Dawn and her husband, Chris Block, they have used the test site at the Cannon Building twice, including Friday afternoon.
They looked past the place to be tested with their two young daughters, Coral and Sequoia.
“I like to test pretty regularly, we have a pretty low exposure risk, but we’ve been going to the gym a bit lately, even though we wear our mask,” Dawn said. “I want to make sure we’re all free of COVID and do not pass it on to anyone else in the community.”
With the more than 100 test sites closing down in late March, the Dawn-Block family and others will have to go another way to test.
“By eliminating this option, you know across the country, it makes it even more inconvenient for people who can’t afford to just run out, buy some tests and then wait to be refunded,” Block said.
It is a concern repeated by Utah Academy of Family Physicians.
They shared a statement with FOX 13 News Friday, saying they have some concerns about Governor Spencer Cox’s decision.
They say in part, “With the reduction of sites for testing, this burden will fall on our providers who are already stretched thin.”
The medical team goes on to say in their statement, “If we are concerned that those who end up with severe symptoms, or if we see another increase, we will see our health systems become overwhelmed again.”
While locations across the state, such as the Maverik Center, saw long queues a month ago during the rise in the Omicron variant, state health officials say demand has fallen.
“Some of those who were brought in were related to the CDC,” said Nate Checketts, executive director of the Utah Department of Health. “They picked up two more places for us at the University of Utah and the Utah Valley, both of these places. Will close,”
In all, the Utah Department of Health says seven locations will close by the end of the week.
For those who use the test sites, like the Dawn-Block family, they say this transition is coming too soon.
“I do not think we need to start shutting things down and turning our wheels until we know for sure that this is the phase we are in and that we have the infrastructure to ensure that testing is still easy, free and available to anyone who needs it, “Dawn said.
The Utah Department of Health says it will still step in and help if COVID-19 outbreaks occur. It will include additional testing and support.