Colorado officials have asked anyone with a cough to be tested for COVID-19, but this may be more difficult for people who live outside the metropolitan area or start to feel unwell on weekends.
The number of Colorados being tested on any given day this summer was declining, but as the more contagious Delta variant of the virus spread widely, this number began to pick up again in late August. As more and more people are vaccinated, some large-scale testing sites are closed in the spring or early summer.
Despite this, more than 5% of Colorado’s COVID-19 test results are positive, which has raised concerns among public health officials that the state has missed some cases of infection and people may unknowingly expose people around them Under the virus.
Although there are exceptions, Colorado counties, where more testing is currently available, have a lower positive rate, indicating that they have a better understanding of how many people in the community are infected with COVID-19. Of the 11 counties where the percentage of positive tests exceeded twice the state target, 4 counties had no test sites, and 5 counties offered tests on two or fewer days a week.
Dr. Nitika Pai, associate professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, said that research on HIV and other diseases shows that if testing is easier, people are more likely to find out if they are infectious and seek treatment. Unfortunately, the test plan does not always take into account the needs of potential users, such as the elderly or people without transportation, she said.
“You have to make testing easy,” Pai said.
In some areas of Colorado, finding a test is not difficult. Lisa Navarre of Boulder said that registering for the test online at Stazio Ball Fields in the city is “super fast” and results will be available in about two days.
“I’m pretty sure this is an allergy, but it is unforgivable to choose not to know and possibly infect other people,” she said.
Although there are more than 100 possible test points available in Metro Denver, they are not included Retail pharmacy, An analysis by the Denver Post found that nine counties in Colorado were not included in the state’s test site Free website list Or a pharmacy partner, in 2-1-1 Colorado Service database, or on the local public health website in these counties.
The counties with no obvious test options are Cheyenne, Costilla, Custer, Dolores, Elbert, Grande, Jackson, Lake and Lincoln.
“We are committed to ensuring that all people in Colorado can easily test. Although we do not have test sites in every county, we are committed to ensuring that tests are conducted in as many places as possible based on needs and resources,” Jessica Said that Bralish is a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “We maintain regular communication with local public health agencies to ensure that they have the necessary testing resources.”
Pai said that if rapid testing can be sustained and at a reasonable price, self-testing can partially fill the gap. She said, for example, universities and workplaces can set up kiosks with test kits. For people without symptoms, self-testing is not as accurate as laboratory testing, but studies have found that if used regularly, it can reduce the spread of the virus.
“Frequent continuous testing is the best way out,” she said.
Find test points and kits
However, some Colorado people report that it is difficult to find home tests.
David Marbury of Littleton said he tried to buy a self-test kit, but when he arrived, three pharmacies listed available testing tools on their websites and he gave up. Because of his mild symptoms, he decided to avoid contact with other people before the end of the infection period without confirming whether it was COVID-19 or a cold, but he said he was worried that the state might miss important information.
He said: “If other parts of the metropolitan area lack self-testing like we did in Littleton, and what I have is indeed COVID, then it is certain that the new cases are seriously underestimated.”
The state’s COVID-19 incident commander, Scott Bookman, said at a press conference this week that the state has enough capacity to conduct more tests and urges people to be tested when they develop symptoms. include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
“Testing is an absolutely critical part of controlling this situation,” he said.
But even in the relatively saturated area of the test site, some people reported being confused.
Melanie Rubalcaba of Frederick said that when she searched the Internet for the test site, the first result was Walgreens and some nearby emergency care facilities, but there were no appointments that day. It wasn’t until she remembered that the Boulder County Fairground had a test site before June, she found the county’s website and was able to book a test at the Longmont United Methodist Center.
“I really don’t know where to start,” she said. “This is a learning experience.”
Others, such as Denver’s Breanne Hammett (Breanne Hammett), said that getting tested in the past few weeks has not been harder than earlier this year. She said that she and her daughter were tested at the COVID Check site at George Washington High School on Friday morning and got the results on Saturday night.
“It seems to be very consistent with previous experience, but there are fewer cars,” she said.
The speed of testing is important because if people learn about their results within a few days, it will increase the likelihood that they will self-isolate until they get a negative result or pass the infectious period. People with mild symptoms who cannot be tested may decide to assume they are catching a cold or allergies, and for people who cannot work from home, waiting for a long time may not be feasible.
Most people who responded to the Washington Post’s request to talk about their testing experience reported that they got results relatively quickly. Of the 69 people who underwent PCR testing (more accurate than rapid testing but requiring processing in the laboratory), about two-thirds got results within 48 hours.
Bralish said that, on average, even if testing requirements increase, the laboratory will return results within two days. She said that last week, Mako Medical Laboratories signed a contract with the state government to run some test sites, but there was a technical problem with its patient portal that delayed some results, but the problem has been resolved.
Limited access to the test site
Almost everyone who told the Washington Post that they had difficulty taking the test reported that there were no appointments available in their area because both websites were closed on weekends, or that none of them were listed on their websites. Vacancies. Two people said they could not find a free website nearby, and one said she was told that if she had no symptoms or had no reason to believe that she was exposed, she would not be tested.
The 10 largest counties in Colorado have at least one test option every day of the week, but weekend options are more likely to be emergency care facilities or other fee-paying providers. About a third of free test sites have at least some weekend time.
Smaller counties generally receive fewer tests, but there are some exceptions: Ulay County has about 5,000 residents and tests are available four mornings a week, while a few counties with twice the population do not list any sites.
Centennial’s Heather Ruddy said that when her daughter had a sore throat on Sunday, lack of weekend time was an obstacle. The COVID Check site was closed and Walgreens did not have any appointments available, so she went to find a home test kit and finally found one at the second store she tried. She said the result was negative, and her daughter’s throat felt much better soon, so they didn’t need to make an appointment in the end.
Ruddy said that she will be more relaxed when she develops symptoms during the working day. Although there is a “flow of people” being tested at the Littleton Park and Walk site, there are still many appointments.
However, she said that the lack of more testing over the weekend is a problem. She works in a construction company. Some clients want workers on their work site to be tested every 72 hours. This leaves them no choice but to go to an emergency care facility. If they plan to work, they will test Monday at their own expense.
“If you get sick on Friday night, you don’t want to wait until Monday to know what you are dealing with,” Ruddy said.
To find free tests in your area, please visit covid19.colorado.gov/testing.