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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Decline in COVID-19 Testing in Utah Leads To Quicker Results For Some Rural Areas

Two nurses wearing protective gowns talk to people in cars in a parking lot.
Kate Groetzinger
A decline in COVID-19 testing across the state has led to rural areas seeing quicker results. But those testing sites can be hours away for some people.

Instead of lines of cars with people waiting to be checked for COVID-19 that people in urban parts of Utah experience, those in rural areas have a different challenge. 

There are testing sites available in each county, and only a handful of people may get tested at centers daily. However, it can take a few hours for some people to get to them, according to Rita Osborn with the Utah Center for Rural Health. 

“This exacerbates the already existing issues that people in rural Utah face when accessing quality healthcare,” Osborn said.

Results have been coming back quicker recently with the statewide demand decreasing, according to David Heaton with Southwest Utah Public Health Department. 

But people may not be getting checked now because of misconceptions they already have, said Lori Wright the CEO of Family Healthcare in the southwest corner of the state. 

“I think people may still not know they can get results quicker, that they’re coming back as quickly as they are now,” Wright said. 

It’s hard to say what exactly is leading to the decline — Heaton said that it could be because fewer people have symptoms or that people are just choosing not to get tested. 

There have been 3,240 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Southwest Utah as of Tuesday. For the past week, the rate of increase there has been less than 1%.

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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