With Utah’s already record-breaking daily COVID-19 case counts roaring past the 10,000 mark Wednesday and people continue to wait in line for hours at free state testing sites, the Utah Department of Health opened its first self-serve testing kiosk in St. George, and more are coming.
“We will expand to other locations. Cedar City will most likely be next, but we do not have an estimated opening at this point,” state health department spokesman Tom Hudachko said, nor any details about plans for self-serve testing sites along the Wasatch Front.
The kiosk on the Dixie State University campus that Soft Cell Laboratories has been contracted to run for the state is similar to the dozens of self-serve sites already set up throughout the state by Intermountain Healthcare, the region’s largest health care provider, for its patients.
The self-service model allows someone who thinks they’ve caught COVID-19 to sign up online to pick up a sample vial and then fill it with saliva, used to conduct a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, test that’s considered more accurate than the rapid antigen tests available in home testing kits.
The state health department advises anyone testing negative with an at-home COVID-19 test who has symptoms should get a PCR test because the result could be a false negative, something seen more often with the incredibly transmissible omicron variant fueling the current outbreak.
Lisa Justesen, Soft Cell’s COO, said the state’s new kiosk, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, has staff on hand to answer questions and help anyone not able to register online in advance, as well as administer nasal swab tests to children and others who can’t produce enough saliva.
Lines should be limited there, she said, compared to the state’s jammed drive-through sites.