County hopes to have mobile Covid testing van next month |

County hopes to have mobile Covid testing van next month

A mobile Covid-19 testing van could soon be boosting testing capabilities in western Garfield County.

At the public health update during the Garfield Board of County Commissioners regular meeting Monday, Garfield County Public Health Director Yvonne Long said that Dr. Brooke Allen, who is heading the free COVID testing site at 14th and Grand in Glenwood, is also looking into the van idea.

Sara Brainard, nurse manager and COVID epidemiologist team leader for Garfield County Public Health, said they are working with the state of Colorado on the project.

“That’s in the planning stage. We hope mid-December to have the mobile site set up,” she said.

Long pointed out that this will increase testing in the county, so it will also increase the positive results. The county already has a 190-200 case backlog of cases that need to be contact traced, she said. In order to get staff notified about positive test results quickly, when people go to get one of these free tests they will be given information about the steps to follow if their diagnosis is positive, Long said.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky asked if Long had any comments about vaccines.

“We’ve actually been planning for a vaccine for the past five months,” she said, mentioning the county has mass vaccination plans in place.

Colorado may see only 350,000 doses of vaccine in the first shipment, which won’t even cover the state’s health care workers. It’ll likely be late March or early April before the general public gets it, she said.

“We need to be patient,” Long said.

Long started the update by reviewing the county COVID stats, noting that new cases have doubled over two weeks, with 488 cases between Nov. 9 and Nov. 22 and 240 the two weeks before that. The test positivity rate is 12.1%.

“Hospitalizations are still within workable conditions … but those are a moving target,” she said.

Jankovsky said he was concerned that a report from Public Health Specialist Mason Hohstadt shows that 6% of the recent cases were in people 80 years old and older. Hohstadt said that some of those were in assisted living and some were living alone.

Commission chair John Martin asked why there is no free state testing at the county fairgrounds in Rifle rather than Grand Junction.

Long responded that Mesa County and Grand Junction have the staff and providers to handle that amount of testing.

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