Did you know that the news does not stop? The news never stops. The news just goes and goes.

Anyway, here’s a brief update for Monday:

Free rapid testing available to Moabites Friday and Saturday

Free COVID-19 rapid tests, sponsored by the state, will be available Friday and Saturday to Grand County residents at the Southeast Utah Health Department, right next to the movie theater. Residents do not need have symptoms of COVID-19 to qualify for a test.

A person can have and spread the disease without showing symptoms, and numerous studies indicate that asymptomatic COVID-19 accounts for roughly half of known cases.

Epidemiologists widely cite asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 as an important reason to regularly get tested for the disease, even for people who do not have symptoms or have tested positive in the past.

You can get a free rapid test by registering online then driving up to the testing van at the scheduled time. The test is a simple nose swab. You’ll get results in your email the same day, probably within 30 minutes.

While Grand County as of Monday had a low positive test rate of 3.3%, indicating that the amount of COVID-19 testing locally is sufficient to track the spread of disease in the county, the rate has fluctuated widely in recent weeks.

In January, Grand’s rate of test positivity hit 23.4% one week — far above the 5% threshold some health experts have cited as a target, though others have set targets both above and below 5%.

The mobile testing site will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, then again from 12:00 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, both days at 575 S Kane Creek. To schedule a test time, register online at testutah.com.

Colorado is vaccinating journalists

Colorado has “essential frontline journalists” in their Phase 1B for vaccine distribution. It looks like Mesa County (Grand County-adjacent) is not yet vaccinating journalists, but you can sign up with their health department to get notified when an opening comes up. I have not checked with Dolores and Montezuma Counties.

“Mesa County is currently making appointments for highest risk health care workers in Phase 1A as well as select populations, including first responders in Phase 1B. Appointments are being scheduled through employers at this time and are not open to the general population due to  limited supply.” — Mesa County Health Department

I don’t know what Colorado counties are doing, but at least in Southeast Utah, residency is not a condition of vaccination. Our health department director said that it just is not worth the administrative energy to verify a person getting the vaccine actually lives in Utah; they’re just going based on age to prioritize using up doses.

But Utah and Colorado are different in part because, at least to me, Utah’s priority list seems to be designed to avoid the trap of spending energy verifying employment information before giving a vaccine. If you’re 70 or older, you just show your ID; otherwise, your employer (a school district, an EMS district, a tribal care facility, …) gives you your vaccine.

Colorado seems to have a more convoluted scheme, but they have also administered shots more efficiently than Utah.

Anyway, I signed up to be notified when journalists start getting the vaccine. We’ll see if they verify my residence before giving it to me.