Grand begins COVID-19 surveillance testing as it seeks variance request |

Grand begins COVID-19 surveillance testing as it seeks variance request

County remains at 5 positive cases, adds 5 ‘associated’ cases

Grand County Public Health performed COVID-19 surveillance testing Friday as part of an effort to submit a variance request from the state’s public health order.

The goal of the testing is to gauge the extent of COVID-19 transmission in the community, officials said in a recent update. The testing was performed using a Molecular PCR Test that detects recent or active disease.

The tests occurred on a sample of predetermined, high-contact, front-line workers. Tests, which were provided for free to businesses and their employees, are being sent to a state lab for processing and results should be returned by Monday, officials said.

Officials added that Grand County does not have much data on COVID-19 in the community yet. With five positive cases in the county since March 12, including two probable positives, there are now an additional five cases “associated with” Grand County.

The update explained that these cases are not included in Grand County’s total case count as the patients’ permanent residences are in other counties. Officials say the local risk from these associated cases is low.

However, officials pointed out that this is an indication that COVID-19 continues to be present in the community and that health protocols should continue to be followed.

The surveillance testing is a requirement for state and local government to open more business operations and increase economic function, officials said. It’s also fundamental in getting an approved variance from state public health orders.

County officials said they are working toward approaching the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with a variance request. The request process must meet designated criteria for the county including surveillance testing, adequate personal protective equipment and expansive public health disease monitoring.

Beyond that, the county must create an alternative COVID-19 suppression plan and request to be approved by the county public health director, all local hospitals and the Board of County Commissioners before submitting it to the state.

Officials said they must work to identify in the application how the variance will be consistent with the intent of the state’s orders and that the process takes time. Counties face significant penalties for disregarding state orders, specifically losing funding from the state, the Centers for Disease Control and FEMA.

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