By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4) – Concerns of COVID-19 may not be at the forefront of recent protesting, but the city of Denver wants to remind people, there is free testing available to those who believe they may have been expose.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re not out of it yet, the virus isn’t seasonal so we still have to take precautions to stop the spread or to slow the spread and when you see people out without masks on top of each other downtown the first thing we though well, something we have to do about it,” said Greggory LaBerge, head of the Denver Police Department Forensics Division.

LaBerge runs the free testing site at the Pepsi Center, and says while it’s been busy, it has the capacity to test many more people than it’s seen.

“We’re seeing about just under 400 a day average. We’re over that today I think because of the push here for asymptomatics, but we can handle a lot more than that,”’ he said.

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LaBerge has a Ph.D. in medical genetics and knows testing is key to slow the spread. He says it’s now more accessible since they’ve been able to open it up to anyone, for free, without a doctor’s note.

“Well, you want to test for a reason. Remember that the test is only as good as the day you take it on so if you take the test today, we’re testing to see if you have the virus right now. It’s not going to tell you if you had virus three months ago. It’s not an antibody test,” he said. “Maybe you were in a big crowd like protesting, and you might have been exposed, but you want to give it a few days because the virus has a period where it has to replicate to get to the numbers enough for us to actually detect it.”

Since Mayor Michael Hancock recommended testing for people who attended the protests, the city says it’s seen a spike in people registering for testing and a spike in actual testing at the Pepsi Center.

As of Tuesday morning, 3,522 total tests had been conducted with 450 tests administered Monday in comparison with Saturday and Sunday, where there were only 200 tests combined.

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Tuesday afternoon, things were quiet and CBS4’s Jamie Leary took advantage of the free testing. It’s an easy, self-administered nasal swab with results in as little as 72 hours.

While many of the protesters over the last six days have been equipped with masks, there is no social distancing. If anyone is concerned, LaBerge says the site is equipped to test thousands per day and encourages people to stay on top of their health.

The city recommends you pre-register to make the process more efficient.

Jamie Leary