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U of U Health launches massive COVID-19 testing effort, and they want YOUR help

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University of Utah Health is launching a massive new effort to better understand coronavirus and how it is circulating here in Utah. (Photo: KUTV)

University of Utah Health is launching a massive new effort to better understand coronavirus and how it is circulating here in Utah.

It’s called Utah HERO, short for Health & Economic Recovery Outreach. It’s partnering with ARUP Laboratories and students from U of U's Eccles School of Business to test 10,000 Utahns across four counties. Field researchers are randomly selecting households in Utah, Davis, Salt Lake and Summit counties and asking them to participate in the study.

"I love science! I love medicine! I’m probably a nerd with stuff like that,” McKenna Hunt, a student researcher said. She’s one of the dozens of students helping launch the study. They are going door to door, asking people to be tested for coronavirus and its antibodies.

“We do a nasal swab and a blood draw which tests for both active COVID-19 as well the development of anti-bodies inside their system,” she said.

Researchers are trying to understand the spread of the virus here in Utah.

“We’re now looking for what we’re missing,” said Stephen Adler, a public health professor at the university and the director of Utah HERO’s field operations.

As the field researchers go into new neighborhoods, they set up mobile testing sites so people don’t have to travel far from their homes. Participants do not have to pay for the testing or show proof of insurance.

“We know there are a lot of testing sites for people when they’ve felt sick or they’ve been exposed to somebody who’s been exposed to someone with COVID-19,” Adler said.

But because they’re looking to track the spread, they are looking for participants that aren’t exhibiting symptoms as well.

“We know in the community there are cases of infections that are circulating and we’re trying to get a better understanding of that so we can help decision makers guide getting back to normal,” he said.

Participants who test positive will be notified and given instructions on how to prevent spreading the virus.

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