Trisha Rickey was worried she might have been exposed to COVID-19 when her son came down with a severe sore throat, a high fever and a cough in March.
Anne DiZenzo was simply curious and thinks the more people in Durango who can be tested, the better information we’ll have as a community in making plans to reduce the viral spread.
Both Rickey and DiZenzo fulfilled their desires to be tested for COVID-19 antibodies on Saturday when they were among 331 people tested at a community testing event held by Cedar Diagnostics at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
“The biggest thing I noticed was just how well the community did. They scheduled online. For the most part, everybody adhered to their appointment times. People showed up on time. They kept a nice safe distance apart from one another. With that many people, it could always go another way and maybe not be that smooth,” said Danny Flynt, business development manager for Cedar Diagnostics in Durango.
Three hundred and twenty-four people scheduled appointments. They each had 4.5 milliliters of blood drawn for the test.
Several other people who did not have appointments also dropped by the Exhibit Hall to have tests, and they too were able to be tested. Flynt said Cedar Diagnostics is considering having a second community testing day.
Flynt said Tuesday 11 people out of the 331 tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, a 3.3% rate of infection. That compares with about a 4% positive test rate Cedar Diagnostics has seen in all its COVID-19 tests in Southwest Colorado.
Cedar Diagnostics is using an antibodies test developed by Abbott Laboratories, and the tests are now becoming more widespread. People who want to be tested can schedule an appointment online to be tested at the firm’s testing sites at 450 South Camino del Rio, Suite 105, in Durango and at 1011 N. Mildred Road in Cortez. In Pagosa Springs, people can call (970) 372-0456.
A test will cost $30, but Flynt said for those who are in a vulnerable group or suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19, the test is covered by most medical insurance with a doctor’s order.
Flynt said several people on Saturday made donations to cover tests for people who can’t afford the COVID-19 antibody test, and he added Cedar Diagnostics will work with people who can’t afford the COVID-19 test or any other lab work.
The day started at 7 a.m. with 10 Cedar Diagnostics staff members who volunteered for the testing day setting up at the Exhibit Hall. Cedar Diagnostics employees set up 10 stations to draw blood and had no fewer than seven stations in operation throughout the day, which ended at 4 p.m.
“We were going to take a break for lunch, but we got some extra staff members who were able to help, and we could work through lunch. Someone who came through and had their blood done, they actually – without even letting us know – they ordered lunch. They fed us on their own. They paid for it. And they tipped. So the team, everybody, had plenty to eat. It was nice,” Flynt said.
Results will be mailed to individuals who were tested, and Flynt said Cedar Diagnostics has informed San Juan Basin Public Health of the 11 positive tests.
“It’s going to take events like Saturday and ongoing participation from providers and a willingness from the community to get tested for us to be able to get data to really get an idea of how things are going here in our community,” Flynt said.
DiZenzo, 56, was told she’d have results by Thursday or Friday.
“Everything went pretty quickly and there’s a quick turnaround, when you’ll get results,” she said. “It’s relatively inexpensive, so I thought: Well, why not? You might as well get tested.”
Rickey said when her son got sick in March she half-jokingly suggested he get a COVID-19 test, but no COVID-19 tests were then available.
Now that more tests are available, she suggests everyone get tested.
“I feel like it’s important for our community to understand how widespread this is so that we have a sense of what’s going on in our community. I think the lack of testing initially, both for the virus and for who’s recovered, makes it pretty difficult for anything to get back to normal.”