New year brings Utah its ‘highest testing demand’ for COVID-19

COVID-19 testing sites were feeling the post-Christmas crunch on New Year’s Day as dozens of cars lined up for blocks, resulting in what the Utah Department of Health called “the highest testing demand we have seen in Utah.”

In Bountiful, a Salt Lake Tribune reporter waited in line at the TestUtah site at 726 100 E. (adjacent to the South Davis Senior Activity Center and near the Davis County Library South Branch on 725 S. Main Street) starting at 1:20 p.m. The line took an hour and 20 minutes to get through.

As of 2:40 p.m., the line consisted of about 60 cars, stretching for nearly two blocks from the library to 100 S. and Main Street.

Locals also responded to an inquiry made by The Salt Lake Tribune on social media asking if and where they were seeing long testing lines.

On Twitter, user @inkedtater said the testing line at the Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem wrapped around the block.

User @robert_binion added that officials at the Martha Hughes Cannon Health Building in Salt Lake City were trying to manage long lines by handing out take-home tests.

On Reddit, user ldesertdrifter said they’d been waiting in a Draper line for nearly two hours at the time of their comment.

In an email, reader Victoria Reid said her husband waited in line for 90 minutes to talk with someone at the Mt. Olympus Senior Center about a COVID-19 test.

At that point, she said he was given the choice of waiting in another line to be tested or receiving an at-home test, which he took.

“What I don’t understand is why there isn’t a person greeting people when they arrive and handing out at-home tests,” Reid said. “This would greatly reduce people’s wait in line.”

The long waits weren’t exclusive to Jan. 1. Reddit user youknowthegame wrote that they waited two hours to be tested at a Holladay recreation center on Dec. 30.

And Twitter user @swansofnever wrote that he’s been seeing “massive” testing lines that are 10+ cars deep in Lehi.

In a statement made to the Tribune, the Utah Department of Health said it is “aware of long lines at many testing sites and is requesting patience from those who are waiting to be tested.”

Long lines started last week following Christmas, according to the statement, as a result of high respiratory illness, travel testing, testing for holiday gatherings, and a return to school and work.

“We are making adjustments to staffing, and providing ‘at home’ testing options when possible,” the department said.

To find testing locations, visit coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-covid-19-testing-locations/.