State health department provides update on Colorado’s COVID-19 testing strategy
Testing for COVID-19 continues to be a top priority for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which has led to the Colorado Unified Coordination Group continuing to support strategic, targeted community testing for health care workers and first responders, and as well as working to increase the state’s testing capabilities.
With that, CDPHE provided an update on Colorado’s COVID-19 testing strategy.
Currently, there are two primary routes to testing in Colorado:
- Hospital staff, hospitalized patients, and vulnerable, symptomatic patients receiving care at health care facilities can get tested at those facilities.
- Critical health care workers and first responders who have symptoms can get tested at community testing sites being run by local public health agencies in various communities.
“Right now, due to limited supplies of testing kits and personal protective equipment, testing needs to be focused on the people who are the most at-risk from this disease and the people in charge of caring for and keeping the rest of us safe, Scott Bookman, CDPHE’s COVID-19 Incident Commander, said. “It’s important to protect the most critical element of the health care system. We are working hard to get the supplies and capacity to move to broader public testing, but until then our message remains the same: if you have only mild symptoms, self-isolate and don’t wait for a test.”
CDPHE provided further guidance on how to prioritize testing for the coronavirus while the testing capacity continues to be strained across the nation and the state of Colorado.
UCG is currently working to develop plans that local public health agencies can use to conduct their own community testing sites when testing kits are more readily available.
For now, testing strategies are now broken into three tiers, according to CDPHE.
- Hospitalized patients
- Health care workers with symptoms
- Patients in long-term care facilities or other residential settings such as homeless shelters or correctional facilities with symptoms
- Patients over age 65 with symptoms
- Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
- First responders with symptoms
- Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms
- People with symptoms who work with vulnerable populations or in group residential settings
- Other individuals with symptoms
CDPHE is urging the public to not wait for a test to self-isolate. People who are not at high risk of severe illness may not need to be evaluated in person or tested for COVID-19.
Not everyone with symptoms will be tested right away. Call your health care provider if your illness becomes more severe, especially if you are experiencing shortness of breath.
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of medicine) AND
- Other symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) have improved AND
- At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
- Anyone in your household you have had close contact with (within six feet for approximately 10 minutes) should self-quarantine for 14 days, even if you haven’t been tested for COVID-19.
- If you have a medical emergency, call 911. If you have severe respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, tell the 911 dispatcher about your symptoms. Do not wait for a COVID-19 test to call 911.
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