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Some Colorado counties ramping down COVID testing sites

As more people get vaccinated, there has been a decrease in usage of testing sites.

COLORADO, USA — It's never been easier to get a COVID-19 test in Colorado. That's because not as many people are going to testing sites. As demand goes down, counties are scaling back by closing some of those testing sites.

Boulder County Public Health began ramping down COVID-19 testing locations. The department said the need for ongoing testing sites has diminished as vaccinations go up.

The testing site at the Boulder County Fairgrounds shut down on June 9. St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center will end operations on June 18 and Stazio Ballfields will close on September 30.

"It's just a good time to look at that infrastructure and ramp that down," said Chris Campbell, the COVID-19 testing lead for Boulder County.

One year can make a big difference. Last week at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, there was not even a line for a COVID-19 test. 

"And we also looked at data that shows one percent positivity rate right now." said Campbell. 

Campbell believes this move with testing sites is positive news for the community. 

As of Sunday, more than 73 percent of the eligible population in Boulder County had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 

The number of tests administered in Boulder County has steadily dropped since mid-May. 

Credit: Boulder County Public Health

Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) said they've slowly been demobilizing community testing sites as well. As of last week, DDPHE had two remaining. 

"We are sometimes testing as few as 20 people across our two existing sites, which has shown that as people continue to access vaccine and testing becomes more available, individuals are seeking testing at our community sites less often," said Cali Zimmerman, DDPHE Emergency Management Coordinator.  

DDPHE still provides free testing to people at high-risk in congregate living settings, including persons experiencing homelessness. They continue to provide support to community partners, upon request. 

Credit: DDPHE

"We’ve identified these groups as priority because of potential and real barriers they may face in accessing care," said Zimmerman. "Other individuals are now able to access testing through a healthcare provider or even by requesting a free at-home rapid test kit from Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment."

State health officials said Colorado remains committed to providing access to free testing to all those in the state who seek it, and will continue to provide testing. 

"Some of our larger testing locations, such as Water World and various sites at fairgrounds, have been relocated to nearby locations with a smaller footprint," said an CDPHE spokesperson in an email. "Often CDPHE has worked with local public health agencies to move these sites because the hosting entities wanted to reopen their businesses, not because CDPHE is removing testing services." 

Dr. Michelle Barron is an infectious disease expert at UC Health. She said it is good news that trends are moving in the right direction for now but testing can't just go away. 

"COVID has done this lovely rollercoaster and so in the summer months we might get a bit of a reprieve but that doesn’t mean we are done with this," Dr. Barron said.

In Boulder County, mobile teams will be available to provide testing should there be concerning outbreaks. In addition, Boulder County Public Health will continue to coordinate with early childhood education, K-12 and summer camp partners, as well as CU Boulder on plans for the fall.

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