Elderly Utah Man Dies While Waiting in COVID-19 Testing Line

An elderly man has died while waiting in line for a COVID-19 test in a clinic's parking lot in Utah.

The 71-year-old nursing home resident was brought by a driver and caretaker to be tested at the Intermountain Healthcare clinic in North Ogden on Sunday.

By the time the vehicle arrived at the front of the line of the drive-thru test site, the man was found "unresponsive, cold to the touch, and likely deceased."

"Testing center caregivers acted quickly and followed correct procedures by immediately calling 911, but EMS workers could not revive the individual," a statement from Intermountain said, reported KUTV.

It is not known at this time if the patient's death was related to COVID-19.

Intermountain said the testing center was fully staffed and the number of people seeking testing is significantly lower on Sunday. On the day in question, the wait time was less than 45 minutes, reported KUTV.

Deputy Chief Jeremiah Jones, of the North View Fire District, told Fox 13 the 71-year-old was discovered in "cardiac respiratory arrest."

"Cardiac respiratory arrest is when you have no heartbeat and you're not breathing on your own," Jones said.

Jones said there are a number of ways a person can suffer cardiac respiratory, including a heart attack or complications from COVID-19, but emergency services do not "diagnose in the field" and it is still too early to suggest why the 71-year-old died.

Neal Berube, the mayor of North Ogden, added: "I think until an autopsy is performed, we probably shouldn't jump to conclusions.

"It would be very unfortunate to try to place blame on what happened here... the anxiety, the fear that's present in our community, it just gets compounded when we jump to conclusions."

Berube said he believes the patient was getting tested as he was due to undergo surgery.

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(File photo) Workers wearing personal protective equipment gather the tests administered from people's cars as Mend Urgent Care hosts a drive-thru testing for the COVID-19 virus at the Westfield Fashion Square on April 13, 2020 in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. A 71-year-old nursing home patient died while waiting for a COVID-19 test in Utah. Kevin Winter/Getty

The mayor said he is confident that the clinic is coping with the demand for tests as previous days have seen people waiting in line for several hours.

"Safety of patients and the community is number one. I believe that if additional resources are identified then Intermountain Healthcare, following their values and their mission, that they would make sure resources are there," Berube said.

"Any given day, you don't know how many patients are going to show up to get tested. It's not a pre-scheduling situation."

Health officials are asking anyone who is seriously ill to call 911 for help or go to a hospital emergency room and not attend a COVID-19 drive-thru testing center.

There are more than 24,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Utah, with at least 180 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, 1,049,098 people have managed to recover from the virus in the U.S.

This graph, provided by Statista, shows the reopening status of all states as of July 13, 2020.

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