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Gov. Herbert: Partnering With Tech Companies Will Get Utah Close to 7,000 Daily COVID-19 Tests

Photo of a man standing behind a podium speaking
Screengrab from video via Facebook Live CEO David Elkington speaks at a press conference announcing a Utah state partnership with a group of tech companies to increase COVID-19 testing on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

A state partnership with a group of tech companies will get Utah close to its goal of 7,000 coronavirus tests per day in the next couple of weeks, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday. 

The tech companies have set up two new test sites in Utah County and plan to open another six around the state in the coming weeks. 

The group is using testing materials from a variety of vendors, and not purchasing test kits as packages, to increase the number of tests they’ll be able to run, according to David Elkington, CEO of 

”We've made it so that if we get any sort of chokehold or any sort of bottleneck we just plug in the other vendor,” Elkington said. “It’s costing us more because we're putting lots of redundancy in.”

The group has also launched an online survey that asks people about their symptoms and exposure to people who tested positive. The goal is to help the state gather more data on the pandemic.

“The purpose of the assessment is to help us understand where the problems are, where we should set up more testing,” Elkington said. "If we don’t understand who’s sick, where they’re at and what their symptoms are we can’t get ahead of this.” 

People who take the survey and qualify for testing will be sent an email with the closest test site to them, Elkington added. However, state officials are asking all Utahns to take the online assessment, even if they don’t feel sick, to identify who could be unknowingly carrying the virus. 

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said having more information about who is sick and where they are will help the state take a more targeted approach in containing the virus and slowing its spread. 

“We all know that there’s only so long that we’re going to be able to do [social distancing],” Cox said, adding that it became necessary because of a lack of testing. “We’re building capacity so we don’t have to live our lives in shelter all the time, so that we can find those that have been infected and the people they've come in contact with even if they don’t have symptoms so that we will eventually be able to test all of them.”

The survey is HIPAA compliant, according to Silicon Slopes, and data will be shared with the Utah Department of Health.

Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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