DRAPER — Technology developed by a Utah company is being utilized throughout Major League Baseball to test players, coaches and staff for the coronavirus.

Recently, the nation’s premier professional baseball organization announced it had contracted with Draper-based Spectrum Solutions as a partner in its COVID-19 testing program for the 2020 season. The company is providing the league and teams with SDNA-1000 saliva collection kits for all testing.

Spectrum produces a noninvasive saliva collection device used to detect whether an individual has signs of a coronavirus infection. The device received authorization for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the spring.

“We needed a safe, reliable, and noninvasive way to regularly test and monitor players and club personnel this season,” said Jon Coyles, MLB vice president of drug, health and safety programs. “Spectrum has proven to be the best option available for our ongoing needs. We appreciate Spectrum’s support, collaboration and assistance during this challenging time.”

In addition to MLB, Spectrum is also partnering with various other sports organizations, including the PGA, UFC, MLS and the NHL, among others, according to Spectrum Solutions chief operating officer Bill Phillips. He said the device and testing procedure is pretty straightforward.

Leslie Titus Bryant, director of marketing and brand, holds a completed SDNA-1000 saliva collection device for COVID-19 testing at Spectrum Solutions in Draper on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“You spit into it, pull it off, you put a cap on it and you send it into the lab,” he said. “Because we’re able to get a more consistent test or a score sample from the patient, we can actually test the level of the virus they have. So we can test if they’re shedding the virus at a high level or a low level if they’re a positive. You can’t do that with a swab.”

He said the test kits can be used effectively by virtually anyone.

”We could ship it to your house, you can spit it and send it to the lab. It’s not administered by a physician, it actually is self-administered so it reduces the need for (personal protective equipment) waste,” Phillips said. “We test our employees every other day here. A device is set on my desk. I spit into it, put it into the bag and I hand it off to the front desk. We send them out every Tuesday and Thursday.”

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“If (an employee tests) positive, we’ll send you home right away. And from there, we test you again until you get two negative results to come back to work full time,” he added. “We have a drive-up test, so all new hires get tested before they can come in the building. The ones that tested positive also could come, or we have a family member take (a kit) to them if they’re sick and we just continually test them until they pass with two negative tests.”

He estimated the cost of an individual test kit at $10. Because of the efficacy of the testing and the fact that workers at the company are considered essential, approximately 700 employees come to their south valley offices daily, explained spokeswoman Leslie Bryant.

Phillips said while there are a few other companies that make saliva testing kits, a big difference is Spectrum has a proprietary preservation solution that renders any virus inactive, making it safe to handle.

A worker packages SDNA-1000 saliva collection devices for COVID-19 testing at Spectrum Solutions in Draper on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“It preserves the (ribonucleic acid) to test, but it makes it noncontagious, so that’s why around here people aren’t worried about touching the product,” he said. The sample remains viable for up to 14 days in the saliva testing kit, he said.

Phillips said the way the kits work make them easy to use, whether for in-person health care visits or when using technology, as was become increasingly popular even before the era of coronavirus.

“Telemedicine was coming in, it’s been around and people are dabbling with it and now it’s at the forefront. It’s been pulled forward so quickly that (remote visits are) now going to be the future of the waiting room — you’re not going to go to an Instacare,” he said.

“You’re going to get online and (your doctor will say), ‘Hey listen, I’m going to send you out this kit, you’re going to spit into it and tomorrow I’m going to call you back and I will tell you that you don’t have COVID, but you do have (the flu) and here’s what you do. I’ll email (a prescription) to you and you go to your pharmacy and pick it up.”

He said the company is working to expand its testing procedures to detect other medical conditions as well.