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An audit published Wednesday looks at issues with COVID-19 testing in Utah, including the time it takes to get test results.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor General recommends the state take action to improve testing turnaround times, which it concluded are not reported consistently.

“State COVID-19 data that we analyzed does not provide a complete picture of the time it takes to return a test result back to a patient,” the report states in part. 

You can read the full report here. 

Different health officials were reporting the results in two different ways:

The time from when the patient was swabbed until the results are told to their healthcare providerThe time from when the patient is swabbed until their healthcare provider tells them the results

Auditors also cited concerns with the time it takes to process tests, but said some labs, including the state-run lab, have been able to reduce processing time and eliminate backlogs.

The report recommends five steps the state should take to be able to report test processing times consistently:

A clear statewide goal for both processing times (mentioned above)The department of health should work with healthcare providers to figure out if the turnaround time, from swab to when the patient is notified, can be determined statewide. If it can, then the department should publish those times on the state coronavirus website.The department of health should consider publishing the average time it takes to process a COVID-19 test by lab and geographic location.The department of health should help labs with better test turnaround times share their best practices with others.The department of health should try to reduce testing delays by transporting backlogged samples to labs with greater capacity. The audit notes, however, that “this may not be feasible.” 

Shortening testing turnaround times is “paramount,” said Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson in a joint statement on Wednesday. 

“As we continue to manage the COVID-19 testing workload, increased efficiencies will slow the spread, decrease disruptions and help keep Utahns working, educated and health,” they said. 

Adams and Wilson said they are confident the Utah Department of Health and the governor’s office would collaborate to improve the testing process. 

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