By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment along with state testing groups say there has been a steady increase over the past few weeks as the Delta variant continues to make COVID-19 more contagious. Testing services say the demand for results related to travel quickly transitioned to requirements for schools and student activities.

(credit: CBS)

“Testing demand has definitely gone up and we are working hard to kind of match that,” said Suzane Ferdows, a regional manager for COVID Check Colorado. “Usually if you plan your appointment the night before, we’ll definitely get you in.”

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CDPHE says there are still more than 100 free community testing sites across the state with plenty of appointments available. Colorado can test 31,000 individuals each day and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state is 11th in the country for number of tests administered in the past seven days.

COVID Check Colorado says the increase in testing went up dramatically just from July to August: 26,172 to 102,242 tests. The end of August saw more than 10,000 tests from the week before and that rate is on track again for the beginning of September week to week.

“It can be harder for people to get those tests for a lot of reasons, some of them are a lot of places that offer free testing, they’re offering a lot of other services too,” said Christopher Titsworth, the owner of the Any Lab Test Now location in Denver.

(credit: CBS)

Customers pay out of pocket to get same-day testing with a PCR result in less than two days and rapid testing is available at his clinic. There has been a small increase in positive test results in the past month. Business was mainly for traveling passengers or employees returning to work, now the customers are meeting school requirements or need a negative result for concerts.

Titsworth says because they only focus on testing, it helps them to speed up the process. Rapid tests are commonly not accepted for requirements of a negative result, but it is also difficult to complete accurately outside in a drive-up site.

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“As we move into the holidays, people are going to want to travel,” he told CBS4 on Tuesday. “Families want to get together, there’s going to be people who are going to want to double check and make sure they’re healthy.”

While the Delta variant is clearly a driving factor for the increase, the holiday weekend and travel outside of the state likely contributed to the recent increase in testing. For those visiting a COVID Check Colorado location, Mondays and Tuesdays will always be busier and walk-up tests will more likely happen in the middle of the week and during lunchtime. They can complete 100 tests an hour or more at each location.

(credit: CBS)

UCHealth also reports that their testing numbers have doubled in the past two months. CDPHE believes it has an accurate sense of infection and disease transmission based on the amount of testing happening across the state. The positivity rate is currently 5.99%, above the recommended limit of five percent. The agency said Tuesday it has administered 215,044 tests last week including those completed by lab partners, hospitals, and pharmacies.

“We definitely have not hit full capacity at most of our sites,” Ferdows told CBS4 on Tuesday.

LINK: COVID-19 Testing In Colorado

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Shawn Chitnis