SALT LAKE CITY, UT — The Utah National Guard troops who were dispatched to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago were already the subject of some controversy pitting Utah Senator Mike Lee against Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser when the troops were displaced from their D.C. Marriott hotel rooms.
Now they’re square in the middle of another potential controversy when the soldiers came home from patrolling sometimes violent protests. According to UtahPolicy.com, COVID-19 tests the soldiers took upon their return were unaccounted for over several days.
A source who wished to remain anonymous told UtahPolicy.com the soldiers were tested at the Southtowne Expo testing center in Sandy. One-half of those tests were shipped to a lab in Taylorsville, the other half sent to a facility in Orem.
Nearly a week later, by the following Friday, the political website reports only about 50 of those tests total could be accounted for. Paperwork for another 50 could not be located after being processed by the state lab in Taylorsville. The rest of the tests, 100 from the lab in Orem finally showed up on Saturday.
The latest hitch hits at a program backed by several high-tech firms in Utah that secured $60 million in no-bid contracts, according to UtahPolicy.com, for coronavirus testing in three states. Questions have been previously raised about the accuracy of results while the lab in Orem has been found not to be in compliance with federal requirements.
One explanation comes from Utah Department of Health’s Tom Hudacho, who tells UtahPolicy.com those tests were not lost, but rather the state of Utah at the time had collected more tests than they had the capacity to process, so some of the ‘run-off tests’ were sent to TestUtah.
In the process, according to Hudacho, some of those tested may not have been clear on where their tests were sent, which may have been the reason for the mix-up.
Although some Washington D.C. national guard troops tested positive for COVID-19, Utah’s troops have not tested positive since returning home from protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Hudacho says there are sometimes delays, especially when there are days where overcapacity occurs, including for few days last week.
Still, according to the UtahPolicy.com story, delays in results and confusion over where tests are sent can be a problem should there be another big surge of cases. State health officials say they can process up to 1,100 tests per day, and the total capacity for testing in Utah is 7,000 per day.
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