DENVER (CBS4) – The lines to get tested for COVID-19 are beginning to test people’s patience. The increase in COVID cases is driving many to testing sites, anxious to know if they’ve added to the numbers. The City of Denver hopes the addition of another community-based testing site will mitigate the growing lines.
“I’ve been here since 8:20 this morning, so it’s been about three hours,” said Dennis Dixon, one of the hundreds of people waiting to get tested at Paco Sanchez Park. Paco Sanchez Park is one of three community-based testing sites offered by the City of Denver, along with Green Valley Ranch Pool and Denver Human Services East.
Some people who arrived before this site opened were told to come back hours later, due to long lines. The City of Denver says it’s able to provide a test to anyone who wants one. The City currently has a lot of demand, and has only turned people away due to increased wait times.
According to Tony Diaz, DDPHE’s COVID-19 Testing Branch Director, the City has the ability to collect 2,000 tests per day and can scale up as needed. However, traffic delays can influence how long the sites can operate safely.
“This really feels like it’s not as organized. I’ve been waiting over an hour,” said Francesca Dermer, another driver in the line of cars Monday morning. “The Pepsi Center testing site was processing a lot faster.”
The City of Denver is not looking at opening a mass testing site, like the operation at the Pepsi Center [now Ball Arena] over the summer. Diaz says they want to keep their focus on neighborhoods with higher cases and lower access to testing to make it more accessible for those in need.
The City is looking at opening a fourth site in Denver’s Ruby Hill neighborhood next Monday. It will be a Monday-Saturday testing location and the City hopes it will mitigate some of the traffic lines.
Denver’s community testing sites are meant to serve those who don’t have insurance or access to testing. Diaz says everyone who can utilize their insurance should do so.
Other testing sites, like UCHealth, are only giving tests to people with symptoms of COVID-19 due to reduced testing capacity. The City of Denver says it is not looking at increasing restrictions to its sites. By design, they are low/no barrier sites for those that have the greatest need.