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Closed COVID testing sites reopening with latest virus surge, work mandates

The amount of COVID-19 testing in Colorado is increasing as another wave of the virus spreads and more people are required to get tested for work.

COLORADO, USA — Colorado is playing catch up with COVID-19 testing – as communities saw less people showing up at testing sites this summer, they shut them down due to low demand. 

They didn’t expect another surge in COVID cases and an increased demand for testing – now towns are racing to reopen testing sites. 

For months, the COVID testing site in Greeley was nearly empty, now there aren’t enough resources to handle the demand.

Around 1,000 people a week now come to get tested at the University of Northern Colorado campus – compare that to July, when the number was just 200 – and it's the only testing site in town.

"We have that one testing site for the City of Greeley and as far as I know, all of Weld County right now," said Dan Frazen, emergency manager for the City of Greeley. "We’ve gotten very, very busy and we anticipate the need for more testing."

Up until the beginning of summer, the city had three COVID testing sites, but when those sites sat empty, the city closed two of them down or consolidated the resources. Now they need them to come back.  

Greeley is working with the state to open more testing sites as the demand increases. 

"We did scale back. We kind of combined our testing sites," said Frazen. "We went into this joint effort with the University of Northern Colorado and the state on campus there. I guess we thought that would maintain us."

Greeley isn't the only community facing the same challenge.

In Larimer County, the health department was doing around 50 tests a week in July. Now that number is up nearly 30 times to around 1,400 tests per week after the state came in and opened two new testing sites earlier this month.

Towards the beginning of summer, Larimer County did what a lot of other communities were doing. The health department focused its resources on vaccinations over testing. As cases rise, the number of testing mandates is also going up, forcing them to handle more testing. 

"As the delta wave started hitting in late July, our testing capacity here at our health department really got overwhelmed," said Kori Wilford with the Larimer County Health Department. "We just couldn’t be happier that this need is now being met."

President Biden announced this month that all businesses with more than 100 people will have to require unvaccinated employees to be tested regularly. 

City officials aren't sure how this impact local testing sites, but they don’t know exactly how many people community testing sites will see. 

Several cities and health departments know it’s going to be a lot more than some are prepared to handle right now.