LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As COVID-19 cases soar throughout Colorado, making the state one of the top five most infectious states in the nation, many counties are working to secure more funding and access for COVID-19 testing. The demand for testing has grown so large lately that the State of Colorado had to strike a deal with a third-party testing company to help meet demand.
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In Larimer County, positivity rates and hospitalizations started spiking months ago.
“We have seen about a 20% increase from the beginning of October to the beginning of November,” said Kori Wilford, spokesperson for Larimer County’s health department. “There is a real high demand for testing in our community. This aligns with the fact that our cases are going up.”
Since the spike in cases, the county has battled issues around the lack of ICU availability. At times some ICU rooms have been doubled to serve more critically ill patients. Some 48% of the patients in Larimer County ICUs were reported as being treated for COVID-19.
As hospitalizations increased so did the demand for more testing. Larimer County increased its county-associated testing locations by adding large testing sites in Fort Collins and Loveland, as well as one in Estes Park.
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“More people are getting sick, needing to be tested. More people are getting exposed and needing to be tested to see if they contracted it,” Wilford said. “Around the beginning of August, we saw the demand really go up in our clinics. We went from testing maybe 15-to-20 people a day in our clinics to seeing a demand of more than 300 a day.”
Months ago an estimated 1% or 2% percent of tests were coming back positive. However, recently the county has seen that positivity rate soar.
“(Larimer County has been) between nine and 10% for the last several weeks,” Wilford said.
Jefferson, Gilpin and Larimer counties are among those seeing roughly 10% positivity rates in testing. Doing better, with lower rates, are Denver and Boulder counties.
However, seeing an even greater level of positive COVID tests are Weld, Adams, Douglas and El Paso counties.
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Wilford said health experts encourage more people to get tested if they have symptoms or believe they have been exposed. By testing early and often people can assure they are isolating when positive for COVID-19 and can also access treatment before their conditions may reach the limit of requiring hospitalization.