By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4)– The City of Denver’s community-based COVID-19 testing sites are running smoother since opening last year. The Denver Department of Health and Environment has learned a lot since its initial testing sites and operations have improved, but there are fewer people getting tested to see it for themselves.

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“Testing has almost cut in half. From about 1,000 tests a day, we’re seeing around 500 a day between all four sites,” said Tony Diaz, Testing Branch Director for DDPHE. “The state has a lot of other testing sites available throughout Denver. I think it’s just being spread more evenly across the city.”

When the mass-testing site at the Pepsi Center closed last fall, the City of Denver announced it would be adding more community-based testing sites in underserved communities. The city continues to offer free testing at Denver Human Services East, Green Valley Ranch Pool, Paco Sanchez Park and Ruby Hill Park.

Diaz says the community-based testing sites are reaching the residents who need it most.

“We’ve seen an increase over the Pepsi center, between the LatinX and African American community, that are coming to the sites. We find that it’s been successful and it’s working. We hope that it continues to work,” said Diaz.

Since the city has more staffing, Diaz says they’re looking into opening pop-up sites to bring more testing options to the community. More staffing has also allowed the city to keep all sites open Monday through Friday. Three of them are open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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“We’re not seeing those long lines. We haven’t seen them in a couple weeks now. We have better infrastructure in place, we have better signage, cones and of course, staffing,” said Diaz.

Adams County just announced the opening of a new rapid testing site at Riverdale Regional Park. The previous rapid testing sites located throughout the county have all been consolidated into this one location. It’s free and open to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Consolidating these sites into one location allows us to continue providing free rapid tests to Adams County residents in one consistent location with more than ample space to conduct testing operations,” said Emma Pinter, Adams County Commissioner and Board Chair. “There is still a great need for testing in our community, and we want to ensure residents who need a free test can get one.”

The City and County of Denver currently does not have plans to open a free rapid-testing site for its residents.

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“Due to the high prevalence of false positives, we don’t feel it’s necessarily the best way to do testing for our community as far as what the city is going to provide. We certainly don’t discourage you from getting a rapid test. For the City and County of Denver, I think the better strategy is to continue with the PCR test. You’re going to have to wait a day or two longer, but you’re going to be a little bit more confident in the test result,” said Diaz.

For more information of Denver’s community-based COVID-19 testing sites visit: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/COVID-19-Information/Getting-Tested

Tori Mason