National Guard to set up COVID-19 mobile testing site in Routt County
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Mobile testing for COVID-19 could begin later this week in Routt County, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Routt County has been chosen by the state health department as the second location of a testing site, following Telluride. While no specific information has been released pertaining to Routt County’s site, the Telluride site will serve about 100 high-risk patients who have been preselected by area health care providers as priority for being tested, according to state health officials. That site would not accept walk-up or drive-up patients.
According to Dan Hatlestad, joint information center manager for Routt County, it was confirmed Tuesday that Routt County would utilize the state’s offer for the testing site. It’s currently uncertain, however, when the site would mobilize as there are concerns with inclement weather later this week.
“The goal of the mobile lab is to go to other locations to inform our epidemiologists on potential growing areas of spread, so that we can put the appropriate resources to the appropriate places,” said Scott Bookman, incident commander for the state health department’s COVID-19 response.
There is no current information about potential spread in Routt County or many other mountain communities, according to Bookman. So far, 25 people from Routt County have been tested for COVID-19 by the state, according to Kari Ladrow, director of Routt County Public Health.
The Colorado National Guard will assist with the setup of the testing sites, and its medical providers will be capable of performing patient testing.
“(The National Guard) will support efforts in understanding the COVID-19 outbreak across the state,” Bookman said.
There is currently a backlog at state labs where the volume of testing has “been overwhelming,” Bookman said during a remote news conference Monday afternoon. About 250 patient samples are being tested per day at the state health lab, Bookman said, which is “the only true capacity in the state.”
The state health department announced just after 4 p.m. Monday that 29 additional cases have tested positive for COVID-19 but did not provide geographical data as to where those cases were located, as it had previously. That information was omitted due to “the high volume of tests being processed by the state lab and a need to get the information out quickly,” according to the state health department.
That brings the total amount of positive tests in the state of Colorado to 160.
Ladrow said there were no new positive cases in Routt County as of Monday.
While state health officials work on ramping up testing, other health care providers are able to send patient swabs to external diagnostic testing companies such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. The volumes at which those are accepting tests are unknown, according to Bookman.
UCHealth, in partnership with the state health department, has opened its own testing site in Steamboat Springs. The site is only for people with an order to be tested from their physician following criteria set by the state.
Located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road, the UCHealth testing center is open from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. No medical care is available at this location.
“This site is only for those who have met testing criteria as determined by their provider,” said Dr. Laura Sehnert, chief medical officer of UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “We continue to work closely with county and state public health departments, as well as our provider partners in the community, to confirm or rule out COVID-19 cases and reduce transmission of the virus.”
Before immediately heading to the hospital, people who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 have several resources, including:
- The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is providing a phone line to answer questions from the public about COVID-19. Call CO-Help at 303-389-1687 or 877-462-2911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for answers in English and Spanish, Mandarin and more.
- UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center offers Ask-A-Nurse, a 24/7 call line staffed by registered nurses who can assess symptoms and provide advice on seeking care. In Routt County, Ask-A-Nurse can be reached by calling 970-871-7878.
- Virtual Visits can be done from the comfort of your home and only require a computer or tablet with a working webcam, speakers and microphone, or a smartphone.
- If patients are experiencing severe symptoms or having difficulty breathing, they should visit the hospital’s emergency department.
Take precautions in everyday life:
- Frequently and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow or sleeve.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home if you’re sick and keep your children home if they are sick.
- Clean surfaces in your home and personal items such as cell phones, using regular household products.
- Be calm but be prepared.
- Employees at businesses and customers are required to wear a mask, according to a statewide public health order.
- Limit distance between non-household members to 6 feet when indoors and outdoors.
- The maximum group size for indoor activities is 10.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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