DENVER – Colorado’s state lab has sent out supplies to build up 42 community testing sites that will be operated by local public health agencies or community health care providers as it works to bring community testing to all of the state’s 64 counties.
The state Unified Command Center says that by getting a community testing site in each county, as well as seeing a ramp-up in private testing, the state could “gradually transition supply purchases back to the local level as supply chains restore.”
It says its testing plan aims to centralize screening criteria, ensure efficient operations at testing sites and provide more efficient turnaround times for test results. The UCC sent a “community testing playbook” to local health agencies to outline they centralized plan for standing up the sites.
Gov. Jared Polis discussed the state's plans to significantly ramp up testing, ideally to test 8,500 a day, by the end of May in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Local public health agencies, local governments, hospitals, clinics and health care coalitions can submit a request for materials to stand up a community testing site by clicking here.
Once a plan is submitted, the state lab reviews it, and if approved, will provide initial testing supplies and personal protective equipment to those agencies. The local agencies would then provide the site, management and staff to collect samples – which would be then sent back to the state lab and state-affiliated labs.
In addition to the community testing sites, Colorado also is pushing private sector hospitals and health care facilities to test staff and patients and to do targeted testing to identify and prevent further outbreaks. There are also collaboration efforts with private businesses, like King Soopers, to stand up additional testing sites.
“We are working every day with public and private partners to expand testing across Colorado. But obtaining sufficient testing supplies continues to be the limiting factor in our ability to reach that goal,” said Scott Bookman, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's COVID-19 incident commander.
The UCC said the state was planning on testing staff at four more facilities that do not have known outbreaks after testing at three large facilities last week.
Among the guidance to local health officials for the community sites, pre-screening patients is “essential” to a smooth flow at the sites, as is having adequate staff and proper pre-training for testing and PPE procedures.
Officials said this week that Colorado was testing between 2,000 and 3,000 people per day but that they hope to eventually be able to test up to 10,000 each day.
Gov. Jared Polis is also expected to address testing in the state in a news conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m.