Amid national COVID-19 testing delays, Gov. Jared Polis announces plans to expand
Fort Collins Coloradoan
With a national backlog of COVID-19 tests causing delayed results, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced plans to expand lab capacity within the state to get Coloradans results quicker.
Due to the national testing backlog, Polis said Thursday that some Coloradans have waited 10 to 12 days for COVID-19 test results. Two weeks ago, the average test turnaround time was about 1-2 days.
Getting results that late is “almost worthless” because “you’re either in the hospital or you’re better,” Polis said.
“We can no longer rely on that national testing,” Polis said. “We need to take charge here.”
The national labs have been receiving “tens of thousands” of tests to process per day from states currently seeing COVID-19 case spikes, like Arizona, Texas and Florida, Polis said.
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With no national testing strategy, Polis said the state is moving forward with purchasing additional testing supplies, expanding state lab capacity and securing more private partners to meet the state’s testing needs.
“We can’t count on our national partners. There is no national testing strategy, so we’re going to lead by example in Colorado and be one of the states that gets it right,” Polis said.
Colorado has run, on average, 10,000 tests per day in the past week, Polis said, up from 5,000 tests per day in April. On average, the state lab processes about 3,000 of those.
To increase the state’s lab capacity, the state has partnered with health care systems and local private labs to process about 2,000 additional tests per day. Partnerships with other national private labs will account for about 6,200 tests daily. Polis said the state lab is also adding a third shift so tests can be processed 24 hours a day.
These agreements will help the state meet testing needs and get results to Coloradans within a few days, Polis said.
Getting results quickly is key for contact tracing, which Polis said has been largely successful so far. On average, state contact tracers have been able to reach out to 96% of people who have tested positive within 48 hours of their results, and 72% of those people have been cooperative with the tracing process.
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“This increased rate of tracing and tracking will help us keep the virus contained in Colorado,” Polis said.
To further diversify testing capacity, Polis said the state has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to “cut through red tape” and move forward with a new saliva-based test created by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder once it is validated.
“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” Polis said. “… We want to be on the forefront of introducing new, more efficient testing methods in Colorado.”
Sady Swanson covers crime, courts, public safety and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support our work and local journalism with a digital subscription at Coloradoan.com/subscribe.
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