SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Frustrations over a lack of testing and delayed results forced Summit County leaders to get creative, offering at-home mobile testing. The county has also contracted with a private lab, which allows more people to qualify for a test.

(credit: CBS)

“We just did not have the capacity in this community to do enough testing,” Summit County spokesperson Julie Sutor told CBS4 Tuesday.

Summit County is now conducting mobile COVID-19 testing and expanded test collection and processing. The County contracted with Stadium Medical to conduct mobile COVID-19 testing throughout the community, allowing sick individuals to stay in their homes rather than traveling to a medical provider.

“It’s giving us a better picture of the spread of the disease and that gives us a better chance of creating strategies that will get us out of the situation we are in,” Sutor said.

(credit: CBS)

The county also contracted with Quest Diagnostics to process tests for Summit County, thereby allowing the county to expand the testing criteria for individuals in the community.

“The county has taken on these roles in order to provide our local public health experts with better roadmaps by which to navigate through this emergency and protect the health of our community,” Public Health Director Amy Wineland said.

CBS4 crews followed along as a Stadium Medical team traveled by ambulance to the residences of sick individuals who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 Tuesday. So far the team has predicted dozens of tests, with more requests coming in daily.

“We want to be sure that people are aware of this mobile testing activity and are prepared to see health workers in PPE entering homes,” Wineland said. “This may feel like an ‘E.T.’ moment, but we don’t want anyone to be alarmed. The residents of those homes are aware that the team is on its way. This expanded testing is a sign of our bolstered efforts and should be reassuring, not frightening.”

A medical provider must determine that an individual meets the newly expanded testing criteria to prescribe a COVID-19 test in order to dispatch the mobile testing unit. Anyone who feels ill with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should contact their medical provider. The mobile testing unit will not test individuals who have not received a prescription from a medical provider.

Prior to March 30, the criteria for testing eligibility included first responders and health care workers who were sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as well as individuals requiring hospitalization. With the new expanded testing capacity, Summit County is able to broaden the criteria, as long as testing kits are available.

Under the expanded testing program, individuals who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and meet the following criteria will be eligible for mobile testing:

  • First responders
  • Health care workers
  • Hospitalized individuals
  • Patients in long-term care facilities
  • Patients 65 years of age or older
  • Patients with underlying health conditions
  • Critical infrastructure workers
  • Individuals with moderate symptoms

Moderate illness includes a dry cough, fever above 100.4, chills and a strong desire to stay in bed. Ultimately, the health care provider will determine whether a patient has moderate illness and is therefore eligible for testing. People with mild symptoms will not be tested. They are encouraged to self-isolate at home and avoid visiting all public areas, except to get medical care. Most people with COVID-19 have mild illness and are able to recover at home without medical care.

“We’re very excited about these new capabilities, because they’ll help give us a much clearer picture of the spread of disease in our community,” Wineland said.

All Summit County residents who are experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 – fever of 100.4 or higher, dry cough, muscle aches, headache, shortness of breath – are strongly encouraged to log them in the Summit County Symptom Tracker, even if those symptoms are mild.

“The Symptom Tracker is not diagnostic of COVID-19, but it does show that there is quite a lot of illness in our community,” Wineland said. “Even with mobile testing, the number of positive tests will still underrepresent the full extent of COVID-19’s presence in Summit County.

The Symptom Tracker helps capture what we’re missing. This is just one way of representing what’s occurring here in terms of communicable respiratory illness. Summit County Public Health is working to put together a 30,000-piece puzzle, and the Symptom Tracker is like a big pile of edge pieces.”

The Summit County Symptom Tracker went live on Friday afternoon. Already, more than 1,000 respondents have logged their symptoms. To log your symptoms in the tracker, visit SummitCountyCO.gov/covid.

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