Hot Spot COVID Testing Shows Encouraging Results
COVID-19 testing is widely available in Summit County with an additional 2000 tests recently sourced from the Utah State Department of Health. Broader testing is critical to managing the COVID-19 epidemic.
Summit County Public Health Director Rich Bullough says his team requested more tests because they did case mapping to identify neighborhood hot spots. Intermountain Health Care used their mobile testing unit to do the additional hot spot testing in five areas throughout the county.
“We are testing much deeper into the column of our community. So, in other words we're not just testing individuals that have the worst symptoms and consequently we're seeing the proportion of positive tests coming back compared to the total amount of tests, really drop. There was a period of time where 20 to 30% of our tests in Summit County were coming back positive. I'm absolutely thrilled to say that over the last few days of testing were below 5%.”
They’ll continue to do contact tracing for people that test positive. The mobile testing unit finishes up at the Ecker Hill Park and Ride on Wednesday and Bullough is certain they’ll have used all 2000 tests kits.
“So, at Park City High School, 270 individuals were sampled on Friday, 473 on Saturday, so a total of 743. At Kamus on Monday 321, Coleville, yesterday [Tuesday], 186 [were tested].
While so many states are having problems getting the number of tests needed to manage the spread better, Bullough says Utah has a small population and good public private partnerships.
“The bottleneck typically has been, not necessarily the number of tests, it's been lab capacity and in Utah what we've seen is that in addition to the state lab there has been several private labs that have stepped up to run tests. And a case in point are these mobile hot spot testing sites. The state lab is not running these tests. Intermountain is. They're using their own lab. It's a combination of things when we hear that there isn't testing more often than not the bottleneck there, in other states, is the lab capacity and we've got lab capacity here.”
Bullough says by testing people without symptoms, they can get a better understanding of the prevalence of the virus throughout the entire community.
“It’s important that we know actually what is going on in the community. And the only way to do that is to sample the community, not just those individuals that are the most, sick. And that is what appeared to have been occurring and so our rates were very, very high.”
Bullough says they plan to continue high testing numbers in the future.