Coronavirus testing ability lags; Colorado ‘chasing the ghost’

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CDC

Gov. Jared Polis said Colorado officials are “chasing the ghost” when it comes to identifying who has been infected by coronavirus in the state, in a press conference on Monday, March 16. 

People are showing up to testing facilities five to 10 days after they’ve contracted coronavirus, making it difficult to identify cases before they are spread to other members of the community.

And despite the relatively high number of tests given in the state already, more resources are needed to adequately identify those infected and curtail the spread of the virus before it reaches at-risk populations.

“Colorado is ahead of where other states are in testing. That’s one of the reasons we have more positive results — it’s not because the virus is more advanced,” Polis said, before adding, “We are unable to get the supplies we need to scale this up as rapidly as we can.”

Increasing testing capabilities now is critical as “the surge has not yet happened,” Polis said. Earlier in March, Polis ordered insurance providers to waive co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles for coronavirus tests.

Due to the lack of tests available, local officials are prioritizing who receives them.

“The idea is because testing is limited right now, we’re prioritizing those contact investigations, those who may have been exposed to COVID-19,” said Boulder County Chief Medical Officer Chris Urbina on a March 13 video conference. “Basically folks that are ill, have severe symptoms and don’t have another explained reason to have those illnesses, or have been exposed or traveled to [places where there are] cases.

“Most folks probably aren’t going to be able to get the test right away,” he added. “We’re going to prioritize tests for those we think are at highest risk.”

Tests are likely to become more available in the next “one to two weeks,” he said. 

If you want a coronavirus test and meet the risk factors outlined above, the state recommends you contact your doctor’s office. Visit colorado.gov/cdphe/covid-19-testing for more information.