LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Due to increased demand for COVID-19 coronavirus testing throughout the State of Colorado and local municipalities, health officials in at least one northern Colorado county are now having to rethink how they prioritize testing. Larimer County’s county-based testing sites are now focusing their efforts on those who currently have symptoms, rather than simply allowing a test to anyone at any time.
Katie O’Donnell of the Larimer County Health Department told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas that demand for testing has tripled compared to that of just three weeks ago.
“There’s definitely a big need here. Obviously our cases are skyrocketing, just like everyone else’s are,” O’Donnell said.
Larimer County, which is home to both Colorado State University and the fourth largest city in the state, Fort Collins, will have to consider adding a fourth day each week of testing at their county locations.
“Just like everywhere else across the state we are seeing an increased need for testing here in Larimer County,” O’Donnell said. “Taking 200-300 walk-ins is not feasible for us.”
On Thursday, the county’s website said their testing locations were already filled with reservations through Nov. 25. Because of the demand, the county said they will now only focus their efforts on testing those who are already showing symptoms or those who have been exposed to a positive case.
“[It was] not the most popular decision,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said companies requiring testing on regular intervals, and those requiring testing after travel, are log-jamming their system. Also, she said some people simply have anxiety over the virus and are frequently being tested for peace of mind.
“That is not unique to the county health department testing, that is most every provider we have,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said some third-party providers, like UCHealth, are also trying to prioritize those with symptoms in their testing. However, many companies are still welcoming general COVID testing for those who sign up in advance for appointments.
O’Donnell said Larimer County is hoping residents will wait longer than they may want to, in order to get the COVID test they need. Many feel they can be tested within hours, or a couple days, of exposure. However, Larimer County believes the most clear results are obtainable a week out from infection.
“Most people want to run out and get tested right away. But, your optimal testing time is seven-to-10 days,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said the county has secured rapid testing kits, and is working to roll those out to the public in the coming weeks. While that process is worked out, she said Larimer County will continue to do what they can to test as many people as possible.
“It is definitely not just a Denver issue. It is not just a Colorado issue. It is a nationwide issue,” O’Donnell said.