As COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the Roaring Fork Valley since the omicron variant made its presence known in mid-December — Pitkin County recorded 462 new cases between Dec. 19 and Jan. 1, according to the public health department — the Free COVID-19 Testing Roaring Fork Valley has announced that it will soon offer same-day results on all testing.
“The service, in collaboration with MicroGenDx — a company specializing in low-cost, FDA-authorized, highly accurate qPCR + NGS microbial diagnostics — has set up a local lab processing center in Carbondale … that will open in late January 2022,” the announcement explained. “In the past two weeks, the local valley service has seen a five-times increase in the number of clients testing as the omicron variant and the local positivity rate has surged.”
The testing services — now operating in 11 locations on the Western Slope (with a 12th on the way, in Fraser) — offer free appointments, often with results within 48 hours. That’s about to become same-day, Dr. Brooke Allen said. She was instrumental in getting the test sites established in November 2020.
Allen, collaborated with MicroGenDx to bring the PCR processing center to the midvalley location so that reliable PCR results can be seen within hours, the announcement explained.
“It’s important to us that our services continue to be free and available to everyone. And it’s extraordinary that the leadership at MicroGenDx has agreed to bring in a local center where all testing conducted at the testing tents can be run in large volumes the same day at no extra cost. There is really nothing like it outside of big cities,” Allen said in a statement.
Clients will soon be able to give a sputum/saliva sample at one of the existing testing tents and receive their COVID-19 PCR result by later that afternoon.
“We will have the capacity to run several hundreds of tests per day with same day results by late January,” Allen continued.
Currently, the site ships all client samples for processing, yielding results for clients in 36-48 hours. “Being able to identify COVID-19 sooner on a larger scale will result in significant reduction of viral spread in our community,” she said.
The Free COVID Testing service is a collaboration with state and local community partners dedicated to providing increased access to testing without a doctor’s visit. All tests are free to the public through an agreement with the state of Colorado. MicroGenDx has agreed to provide large volume processing locally at no extra cost to the State of Colorado.
As of Sunday, the Pitkin County positivity rate was 31.3%, and 83% of PCR tests reported a turnaround time within 48 hours.
Appointments and more information are available at rfvcovidtest.com.