Saguache County conducted free COVID-19 tests

Photo by Patrick Shea After three hours of testing in Center, Saguache County health officials moved operations to Moffat for two more hours of COVID-19 testing on Nov. 17.

SAGUACHE — After Saguache County public health officials took a crash course in COVID-19 testing following an outbreak at the jail in early October, they were ready for their testing blitz this week.

On the first day (Nov. 17) Janet Beiriger directed teams of at least eight staff members at two sites. Starting with three full hours of drive-thru testing in Center, they conducted well over 100 swabs. Cars snaked through the school parking lot at a steady rate. After filling out contact information, drivers rolled forward for a simple procedure — cough, swab around mouth, stick the stick in the biohazard tube and drive away. Results will be available 48 hours after the lab receives samples.

Beiriger and core staff headed to Moffat for two more hours of testing, using roughly 300 of 1,000 kits by the end of the day. In Center and Moffat, local medical professionals joined the team. All of the Moffat teachers took the test. Subsequent testing in Saguache and Crestone followed on Wednesday, all for free and free of deep nasal swabs.

Formed in January 2020, Curative, Inc. developed the mouth-swab test to distribute for free until Dec. 31. The company works with public health departments across the country to make the tests available for free. With help from the state and Curative, Beiriger said they learned the procedure at the jail and appreciate defrayed mail costs and support now. Another testing blitz is likely as resurgent spikes occur.

Starting Nov. 20, Colorado’s risk pyramid will include six categories that counties can move between according to three key metrics. These measures include the number of new cases reported in the county, the rise or fall of hospitalization and the robustness of testing capability. To move to a less restrictive level, counties must meet and sustain all three metrics for two weeks.

Levels rise according to risk, starting with green, which is sometimes called, “Protect our Neighbors.” “Safer at Home” includes blue for caution, yellow for concern and orange for high risk. Red and purple designate “Stay at Home” status (severe risk and extreme risk).

As counties in the San Luis Valley moved to Orange this week (the fourth highest level), Saguache County Commissioners agreed to await results before announcing a risk-level change.


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