Pitkin County, CO - Pitkin County Public Health has received 2,000 additional state-funded testing kits in the form of a self-administered saliva swab used in the presence of a trained healthcare provider, known as Curative tests, with an additional 6,000 tests requested.
This marks a milestone in the testing landscape for our community and signifies a turning point in the options and accessibility of testing for our community. Through a multi-organizational partnership with Aspen Valley Hospital, local schools, municipalities and other large employers, Pitkin County developed a strategy to:
-Increase access to safe symptomatic testing sites.
-Decrease barriers (e.g. physician orders) and assure health equity.
-Leverage economies of scale.
-Conduct targeted asymptomatic testing.
-Pursue existing and emerging testing modalities to assure the most timely and accurate results.
Late last week CDPHE made major changes in the disbursement of these Curative tests. The State originally allocated 1,000 Curative tests to Pitkin County to provide barrier-free testing to underserved and vulnerable populations. CDPHE is now sharing a surplus of these Curative tests, allowing them to be used for broad-based community testing with the caveat they need to be utilized through the end of the year.
Pitkin County has requested a total of 8,000 of the tests to be used for mildly symptomatic individuals with no need for a doctor's referral as well as other public health recommended testing such as asymptomatic testing for congregate settings and known contacts of those who have tested positive. In coordination with our partners, Pitkin County is working to take advantage of the free Curative tests as well as establish more robust testing capacity into 2021. On Wednesday, AVH opened a testing site in Basalt, using the Curative tests, that is open Wednesday through Friday, and ramping up to five days a week in the very near future. The testing site does not require a doctor’s referral, though an appointment is required and can be made at https://aspenvalleyhospital.org/
In addition, through the leadership of Dr. Kim Levin, Medical Officer for Pitkin County Public Health, Clark’s Pharmacy has opened an asymptomatic screening site based on national models pharmacies are beginning to undertake. “Working with our local government and health officials, Clark’s Market is excited to be the first local business to offer asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to the community without needing a doctor’s referral,” said Tom Clark, President of Clark’s Market.
Looking ahead, Pitkin County is seeking to partner with COVID Check Colorado, a social benefit enterprise fund of the Gary Community Investment, to provide a robust, accessible and affordable community-based testing solution throughout 2021. “Our ultimate goal is to have multiple geographically diverse sites throughout the community available to all members of the public, including our residents, our workforce and our visitors from Basalt to Aspen throughout 2021.” said Jon Peacock, County Manager.
As Pitkin County’s incidence rate continues to rise and we risk moving to Level 3 with tighter restrictions, increased testing capacity is critical to helping control the spread of the disease. “Testing is the first step of the box-it-in strategy,” said Suzuho Shimasaki, Pitkin County Public Health Deputy Director, “however, testing is only effective when everyone fully participates in all of the corners of the box, including contact tracing and isolation and quarantine orders.” If you test positive, you must isolate for 10 days and all contacts are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Testing does not replace the need for other proven mitigation strategies such as hand hygiene, mask wearing, and social distancing. Testing only provides information at one point in time. With Colorado's COVID-19 infection prevalence at an all time high, we cannot let our guard down. The pandemic continues to pose greater risks for our community and we need everyone to adhere to the 5 commitments and avoid the 3 Cs.
For more details on testing locations, visit https://covid19.pitkincounty.com/get-tested/