AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado hit a record with more than 40,000 COVID-19 tests administered in a single day. Coronavirus cases continue to soar throughout the state and more people are lining up to get tested. Colorado has dozens of testing locations, but the increased demand is draining supply.
“We certainly have a limitation on the number of tests we’re capable of doing,” said Dr. Richard Zane, Head of Emergency Care at UCHealth. “At the beginning of the pandemic, the test for COVID-19 was a pretty uncommon test. Every health system, including ours, had to stand up to the capacity and the capability. You needed a doctor’s order. As capacity increased and demand increased, we liberalized things so anybody could sign up and get a test.”
UCHealth recently changed its qualifications to receive a COVID-19 test to meet its new testing capacity. Now, COVID-19 tests at UCHealth are only available for healthcare workers, people with a provider’s order or people who are experiencing symptoms including fever, shortness of breath or new cough.
“We’re working literally every hour to increase testing capacity. It’s certainly concerning. There isn’t an hour that doesn’t go by where we aren’t working to get more reagent, more testing capacity,” said Zane.
In a news conference Monday, Gov. Jared Polis said the state has increased testing substantially since the start of the pandemic. The state has more than 80 testing locations, but many are reaching capacity hours after they open.
Testing at Jeffco Stadium and St. Andrew United Methodist Church were paused Wednesday after meeting its testing limit. In Denver, people waited in their cars for more than an hour to get tested at Water World, as the city’s three community-based testing sites closed for Veterans Day.
“We’re looking at adding a fourth location to offload some of the overflow that we’re seeing from the Pablo Sanchez Park testing site,” said Bob McDonald, executive director of Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.
Coloradans were encouraged to take advantage of free testing at the Pepsi Center when it was open. Now, people who have insurance are being urged not to utilize Denver’s community-based testing sites.
“Given the volume of people who want to be tested now, if you have insurance reach out to your primary care provider or urgent care facility and get tested there,” said McDonald.
Polis said the state would like to increase the number of testing sites in the days and weeks ahead. He said the state is working with partners to launch testing bands in hotspots. If you are experiencing symptoms or think you might have been exposed, you can find information on how to get tested at COVID19.colorado.gov.