Hospital: COVID-19 tests in short supply

Testing for COVID-19 works differently in different countries. If you’re in the United States, a health care worker will likely swab the back of your throat with a long cotton swab then send the sample off for testing. Some countries use blood draws. Public domain photo by Belova59 via Pixabay

A spokesperson for Moab Regional Hospital said Wednesday morning, March 18 that the hospital had received “many requests from employees who have been told by their employer that they need to be tested for COVID-19.”

“This is an impossible request,” said hospital spokesperson Christy Calvin.

Calvin said that it is “not possible for the hospital to test everyone that wants a COVID-19 test,” since there is a nationwide shortage of tests and processing facilities. Without respiratory symptoms, patients cannot be tested for COVID-19. Patients may not be tested unless they first take (and fail) an influenza test, as well.

In addition to showing symptoms and taking an influenza test, patients must also meet the one of following criteria to be able to take a COVID-19 test: 1) have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19; 2) have travel history from an affected geographic area; 3) be 65 or older; or 4) be immunocompromised by, in other words, having an underlying chronic condition.

“The State of Utah Department of Health is currently processing approximately fifty (50) COVID-19 tests a day – for the entire state of Utah! Additionally, there is a 72 hour processing time,” Calvin said.

Another hospital representative, Carolyn Wagner, said that as of Wednesday morning, the hospital had done 14 tests, all with negative results except the three that were pending results. Wagner said the hospital had 200 test kits available.

“At this time, due to staffing limitations, Moab Regional Hospital is not able to write sick or return to work notes for employees,” Calvin said. “Please allow employees to stay home from work if they are sick without requiring notes.”