Colorado county plans to offer COVID-19 immunity test to every resident

Posted at 10:17 AM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 12:18:32-04

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. — A southwestern Colorado county is planning to offer a COVID-19 immunity test to everyone in the county, health officials announced this week.

San Miguel County, which ordered a shelter-in-place for residents earlier this week, began testing emergency first responders and their family members on Thursday, according to the county health department. More widespread testing — in which more than 8,000 people in the county would be offered two free blood tests to determine how immune they are to COVID-19 — would begin early next week. The test would not be mandated for every resident.

The county partnered this week with United Biomedical (UBI) and county medical clinics to carry out the tests. Officials said the effort would be the first in the country to test an entire county with the UBI blood test. The tests would help officials learn who might be protected from the virus and who is still at risk.

Anyone who agrees to the test would receive a blood draw from a healthcare provider. Test results could be available within two days, officials said. A second test would be repeated in 14 days, so officials can determine if the infection rate is increasing or decreasing.

San Miguel County through Thursday had only been able to test 38 people. The county's first coronavirus case was confirmed Thursday night in a 54-year-old man who recently traveled within the country. He had experienced symptoms but was recovering this week, officials said.

Several residents in the county have been hospitalized in critical condition with suspected COVID-19, but the cases haven't confirmed by the testing yet, officials said.

“The standard testing situation is out of our control," Dr. Sharon Grundy, County Medical Officer said in a news release Thursday. "Public Health partnering with a private company gives us more control to get better optics into COVID-19 and help mitigate our losses, including what some are saying could be an incomprehensible amount of loss of life."

San Miguel County's shelter-in-place runs until at least April 3 and prohibits all events of more than 10 people and all events at daycare centers, community centers, and restaurants. All businesses, except for essential services, were also ordered to close under the shelter-in-place.