Waiting For Your Free COVID Tests From The State? Try A Community Site, Colorado Officials Suggest.

Colorado is working through the backlog of people who want to order free at-home tests from the state, and officials urged those waiting for a kit to try other testing routes for the next few weeks.

Late last week, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asked people who had signed up to be patient. Because of high demand, the wait to actually place an order could be up to two weeks.

Dr. Emily Travanty, director of the state’s public health laboratory, said in a news conference on Tuesday that the state is working on a waiting list for people who have signed up to order at-home rapid tests, but can’t yet do so. So far, about 70,000 tests have gone to homes, with each recipient getting eight tests to use weekly for two months, she said.

“Demand is currently exceeding supply, which is what we wanted to see,” she said.

Gov. Jared Polis said he’s “thrilled” with the level of interest in home testing, and the state will work through the backlog over the next few weeks. People who are waiting for home tests can go to a community testing site, or sign their children up to get tested regularly through school, he said.

“It means that every test is getting out into the field without delay,” he said.

Travanty estimated the state’s 110 community testing sites can handle about 39,000 samples each day, but usually perform only about 8,000 tests. It takes an average of two days to get results, and the state sends more resources to communities when turnaround time starts increasing, she said.

Colorado’s school-based testing program also has considerable unused capacity, and could serve about 10 times as many children as it does now, Polis said. It’s not possible to simply take tests that aren’t being used in schools and ship them to homes, though, because of the way the contract for school testing is set up, he said.

Travanty said more than 400 schools have enrolled in the testing program, and about 600 others have shown interest. So far, either the schools themselves or a contractor have performed about 4,600 tests, she said.

“We applaud the schools that have signed up already,” she said.

Colorado has more than 2,500 schools and about 883,000 students in preschool through 12th grade.

Also on Tuesday, the state health department announced that all nursing homes will be required to hold a booster shot clinic for eligible residents by Oct. 25. Nearly all nursing home residents received the Pfizer shot at least six months ago.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded eligibility for a third shot, which previously was only authorized for people with compromised immune systems. Now, people who want a booster can get one if they previously received the Pfizer shot, got their second dose at least six months ago and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Are 65 or older
  • Have a medical condition that would increase their risk of severe COVID-19
  • Work in a setting with an elevated risk of exposure to the virus
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Polis estimated about 3.9% of Colorado adults have received a third shot, and urged others who are eligible to get it. People who received the Moderna shot are only eligible for a booster if they have compromised immune systems and Johnson & Johnson recipients aren’t eligible at all, though the CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider expanding the two vaccines’ authorizations in the coming weeks.

Given the high level of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, though, it’s important to take other precautions in addition to getting vaccinated, such as wearing masks in public and avoiding crowds, Polis said. The high number of unvaccinated people in the community means that while vaccinated people are largely protected from severe illness, they could inadvertently spread the virus to someone at greater risk, he said.

“If we just said vaccines and nothing else, we would have a lot more hospitalizations and deaths,” he said. “It’s vaccine plus.”

Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/09/28/colorado-covid-rapid-test-delays/

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