SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare officials report they have processed more than one million COVID-19 tests. The milestone comes nearly a year after the virus was identified in the U.S.
They said it took seven months for their teams to process half-a-million tests, but the process ramped up and it took only three additional months to reach the one-million test milestone.
“This milestone highlights the important role laboratories have played in combating COVID-19 and keeping the public safe,” said Karen Brownell, assistant vice president of laboratory services at Intermountain Healthcare.
COVID-19 tests are processed at Intermountain’s Central Laboratory on the campus of Intermountain Medical Center in Murray and at Intermountain hospital laboratories throughout the state.
Dr. Sterling Bennett attributes the “slow start” to unpredictable and, in some cases, unavailable equipment.
“On top of that, regulations around testing were changing frequently and even knowledge about Covid testing rapidly evolved,” Bennett said.
Currently, the Intermountain Central Lab can perform more than 7,000 tests per day, and more than 90% of the tests have results within 24 hours, according to Bennett.
For comparison purposes, on the first day of testing in March 2020, the lab team only performed 14 tests.
Despite improvements to distribution and overall knowledge of the virus, Dr. Bennett said now is not the time for Utahns to get complacent.
“As a community, we can’t test our way out of this pandemic,” said Dr. Bennett. “Even if our lab-processed 10,000 tests a day and they all turned out to be negative, it wouldn’t stop the virus from spreading if people don’t take necessary precautions and then get infected again.”
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
- Get a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707
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