The Durango Herald is providing free access to this story and other stories that provide critical information about the coronavirus
Your support will help us to continue our work.Subscribe today
San Juan Basin Public Health is opening a temporary drive-thru testing site Friday and Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds to collect COVID-19 data.
Limited testing will be conducted at the site for people who meet specific criteria, including showing signs of COVID-19 symptoms, according to a news release issued Thursday by the health department.
The testing will be for La Plata County residents or people employed in the county. They must meet Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment criteria.
Those criteria include:
Health care or long-term care workers.First responders.Older adults.Individuals with underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, or diabetes.Members of the community who do not meet those criteria will not be tested at the testing site, according to the release.
People who meet the criteria need to call their doctors as soon as possible for a doctor’s order and then call 385-8700 after 8 a.m. Friday to schedule a time for testing.
“There is a significant shortage of test kits nationally, in Colorado, and in La Plata County,” said Liane Jollon, SJBPH executive director, in the release. “Because of the limited number of tests that have been performed, we believe the number of COVID-19 cases in the community has been underreported.
A health department spokeswoman did not immediately know how many tests they plan to administer.
The first testing opportunity will be limited but will provide a snapshot of the spread of the disease locally and allow public health officials to take actions to mitigate future spread of COVID-19.
“Our end goal is to have widespread testing, and SJBPH is actively seeking additional resources to provide more testing in the communities we serve,” she said.
In the absence of more widespread testing, people who have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing should assume they have coronavirus and should self-quarantine or isolate themselves, according to the release.
Other members of the public who are not experiencing symptoms should take protective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The measures include social distancing and everyday precautions like frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with sick people.
People who qualify for testing will be required to remain in their vehicles from the moment they enter the fairgrounds, until they leave the property, according to the release.
There could be a potential wait time in the testing line, so personal needs such as bathrooms, food and drinks will need to be taken care of before arriving.
The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office prepped the drive-thru testing site Wednesday.