DENVER — Governor Jared Polis held a press conference Wednesday providing an update on the State’s response to COVID-19. He reiterated the importance of ‘Safer-at-Home’ and discussed the State’s testing strategy.
In his most recent update Monday, Polis detailed sector-specific guidelines for businesses reopening under the “safer at home” order.
“These next few weeks are critical and I know Coloradans will continue to be safer at home as much as possible and wear masks when in public,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Testing is an important puzzle piece to Colorado’s response to this pandemic and the state continues ramping up our testing capability, infrastructure, and epidemiological work and will continue to aggressively seek resources through the private sector and federal government. When this crisis began the state could only run 140 tests per day and we have increased that capacity 20-fold, with more to come.”
Colorado has been running 3,000 tests per day, and there is the lab capacity to run 10,000 tests, but supply constraints don’t allow for that yet.
The goal is to increase testing from 3,000 to 5,000 per day by early May and up to 8,500 by the end of May.
In order to reach testing goals, Colorado is working to increase testing supplies, availability of testing, and epidemiological capacity.
Testing will help the State identify those who are sick, identify hotspots around the State, and protect those who are vulnerable, but it must be accompanied by isolation or quarantine and follow-up contact tracing to get maximum suppression impact.
There are two types of COVID-19 tests: nasal swabs and blood tests.
Nasal swab tests can diagnose whether people have COVID-19; blood tests typically measure the body’s response to the virus and not the presence of the virus itself.
Currently, those who can be tested include symptomatic health care and front line workers, symptomatic hospital and nursing home patients, symptomatic workers and others in outbreaks, and some symptomatic community members.
By May 15, the State hopes to also include all symptomatic community members, as well as broader outbreak testing. The State is also working to build a robust program to prevent hotspots in senior, long term care, and congregate-care facilities, and other vulnerable populations such as people experiencing homelessness.
There are four types of testing sites in Colorado:
- Private sector hospitals and health care facilities
- Local community based testing sites
- Targeted testing for outbreaks and at-risk populations
- Collaborations between the State and private sector partners
Through a contract with the Colorado School of Public Health, CDPHE has grown its COVID-19 epidemic response team from 31 staff to 56 staff, nearly doubling capacity to perform outbreak response, case investigation, and contact tracing work.
New students will undergo training this week and begin case investigation and contact tracing work next week, working closely with State and local public health staff.
The Governor also provided an update on testing at senior living facilities.
There have been a total of 1,171 tests run with 99 positives (55 Symptomatic, 33 asymptomatic, 11 unknown) at four facilities. The State is also partnering with Colorado State University to test 45,000 nursing home workers in the coming months.
By May 1, the State expects to have weekly supplies of 85,521 masks, 388,733 gloves, 7,840 gowns, and 10,413 pairs of eye protection for nursing home workers.
The Governor also provided an update on the Equity Task Force and announced its members today. Members include:
- Congressman Joe Neguse
- Farduus Ahmed, Hope Communities
- Harry Budisidharta, Asian Pacific Development Center
- Lizeth Chacon, Colorado People’s Alliance
- Eudelia Contreras, Lake County Build a Generation
- Maggie Gomez, Center for Health Progress
- Joline Dorce, Dawn Clinic
- Rudy Gonzales, Servicios de la Raza
- Reverend Amanda Henderson, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
- Deidre Johnson, Center for African American Health
- Adrianne Maddux, Denver Indian Health and Family Services
- Denise Maes, ACLU Colorado
- Kenny Maestas, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
- Omar Montgomery, Center for Identity and Inclusion-University of Colorado Denver
- Priscilla Montoya Vitello, Latino Community Foundation
- Michelle McHenry-Edrington, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
- Rosemary McDonnell-Horita, Atlantis Community, Inc.
- Rosemary Lyttle, NAACP
- Ricardo Perez, Hispanic Affairs Project
- Alex Sánchez, Roaring Fork Latino Network and Voces Unidas
- Carmen Stevens, San Luis Valley Immigrant Rights Center
- Representative from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
- Representative from the Southern Ute Tribe