Colorado's first community testing center for COVID-19 opens in Denver, now to move throughout state

Patients must present doctor's order, photo ID to get tested at drive-up center

Posted

This story was updated March 20.

The state's first community testing center for COVID-19 opened on March 11, and it's now planned to move to locations throughout Colorado.

See upcoming locations here if available, or call 303-389-1687.

Call that number or email COHELP@RMPDC.org for questions about the criteria people must meet to be tested for COVID-19 by the state.

Private labs can do testing now in Colorado as well, so Coloradans should call their doctors to see which option is best.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, priorities for testing may include:

• Hospitalized patients who have symptoms compatible with COVID-19;

• Other people with symptoms, such as older adults, individuals with chronic medical conditions and those with a reduced ability to fight infections;

• Anyone, including health care personnel, who within 14 days of symptoms showing had close contact with a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or who has a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of their symptoms showing.

Putting vulnerable populations first

Given a shortage of testing capacity, the state wants to make sure tests are available for “priority populations,” according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Adults older than 60 and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of becoming very sick or dying from COVID-19, but the disease can be deadly or damaging to young people as well. Here's a short list of what you can do to stay safe.

Not everyone needs to be tested, the state Public Health Department emphasizes. Here's a look at when you should stay home, if you're unsure.

Where it started

The drive-up center operated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was first located at 8100 E. Lowry Blvd., in Denver's Lowry neighborhood. The state will reopened the site March 14 in a new location at the Denver Coliseum, located at 4600 N. Humboldt St. It was moved for safety and logistical reasons, according to the state, and was staffed by a National Guard medical team. The drive-up testing was planned to be open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. but saw early closures due to the high number of cars in line.

After March 14, the drive-up testing operation was to be moved to locations throughout the state.

Individuals being tested drive through a secured area and will remain in their vehicles throughout the entire testing process.

"This testing center will help the state test as many people as possible and improve the public health response by identifying and isolating those who are ill," a news release said. "This approach also helps to protect older adults and people with compromised immune systems.”

Interpretation services via telephone will be available for non-English speakers.

Know before you go

It is free to get tested and proof of health insurance is not required, but Coloradans should check with their health care provider to ask if any fees will be charged for visits or services associated with the test.

To get tested, a person must have a doctor's order confirming the individual meets certain criteria relating to novel coronavirus. It is recommended that people obtain the doctor's order electronically, such as via email or fax, rather than visiting the doctor's office in person. Each person must have his or her own doctor's order.

A form of photo identification with a name that matches the name on the doctor's order is also needed to get tested. The photo ID does not need to be government issued.

People getting tested at the drive-up center should be prepared for long wait times, and it is recommended to bring water, snacks and other items to be comfortable while waiting. Additionally, no restrooms are available at the site.

Those who get tested will be contacted directly with their results within 72 hours, depending on test volume. During that time, individuals should stay home.

Individuals who receive positive test results may be issued isolation orders.

The news release states that the lab's capacity for testing has increased and will continue to receive additional tests from the CDC.

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