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New Tri-County COVID-19 Testing Strategy Aims To Reduce Turn-Around Times For Results

Jul 13, 2020

Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle Counties announced a new tri-county testing strategy to help reduce turn-around times for results. County officials said the goal is to give results in 48 hours by only testing certain people for coronavirus.
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Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield Counties transitioned to a tri-county testing strategy to help get COVID-19 test results to patients faster and ultimately reduce community spread of the virus. To do that, the three counties will only test people who show symptoms, have a greater risk, have been in contact with someone who tested positive or are hospitalized. 

More specific criteria for who is recommended for COVID-19 testing includes:

  • People with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including fever, cough or shortness of breath
  • People with symptoms who are at great risk for severe disease
  • People who are hospitalized with symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case, as defined and recommended by a local public health agency
  • People within congregate settings where there may be a broader exposure to COVID-19 as determined by a local health agency

Carrie Godes, a spokesperson for Garfield County Public Health, said the counties limiting who they test will help save on supplies while also driving down turn-around times from results, hopefully from around a week to 48 hours.

"When we see a delay in the ability to get those results, it's difficult for some people to know how they go about their daily life while they're waiting another full week wondering if they have [coronavirus] or not," Godes said. "They've taken the test but they're waiting for results and engaging and social activities. Now if [the test] comes back positive, that's a very risky situation."

Godes said when labs take longer to confirm positive results, it risks the chance of that person unknowingly spreading the virus in the community. With quicker results, she said it allows public health officials and contact tracers to intervene and reduce the spread sooner. 

"It's very helpful for us to have real-time and accurate data and really get the jump on contact tracing and case investigation," Godes said. "Our work can't start until we have that [positive test result]."

Under the new tri-county testing strategy, testing is not recommended for:

  • People who do not have symptoms and no known close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • People who are preparing to travel or recently returned from travel that do not have symptoms
  • Employees who do not have a known close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • People who are worried, but do not have a close contact exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case or do not have symptoms
  • People who have been confirmed previously and are being retested for release from isolation

Testing Information By County

Garfield County

Garfield County's COVID-19 testing website says testing is available by appointment through different medical providers throughout the county. For general COVID-19 questions, call Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614. If someone does not have health insurance, they should contact Mountain Family Health Centers at 970-945-2840. COVID-19 tests can be done at the following locations:

  • Valley View Hospital requires a physician referral to be tested. COVID-19 testing is being done at the following locations: Internal Medicine location in Glenwood Springs and Silt, Pediatric Partners in Glenwood Springs, Willits and Silt, Roaring Fork Family Practice in Willits and Carbondale and Silt Family Practice in Silt.
  • Grand River Health and medical clinics are testing those who have been screened. To see if you are eligible for a test, call their clinic at 970-625-1100.
  • Glenwood Medical Associates is offering testing for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and COVID-19 antibody tests. Call 970-945-8503.

Pitkin County

According to Pitkin County Public Health's website, county residents and visitors experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are required to get tested. Pitkin County officials said "there is no charge for the test itself beyond insurance, and no insurance is needed." 

The website directs residents and visitors to call your doctor to make an appointment for testing, then your primary care physician can fax this form to place an order with Aspen Valley Hospital scheduling at 970-544-1589. If you do not have a doctor, call Aspen Valley Primary Care at 970-279-4111 to schedule a test. No walk-ins are welcome. 

Eagle County

Eagle County Public Health advises residents and visitors to seek testing if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The following testing sites are available in the Roaring Fork Valley portions of Eagle County:

  • Aspen Medical Care - Basalt Office: Testing is for general public and existing patients. Those looking to be tested must be screened and make an appointment by calling 970-927-3141.
  • MidValley Family Practice in Basalt: Testing is available for both insured and uninsured patients. An appointment can be made at 970-927-4666.
  • Roaring Fork Neurology in Basalt: Testing is drive-up style and free with insurance. Make an appointment at 970-927-1141.
  • Mountain Family Health Centers: To be tested, patients must schedule an appointment by previously seeing a MFHC provider via video call or have a referral submitted by their primary care physician. Testing is free for both insured and uninsured patients. Call 970-945-2840.