By Randi Pierce
COVID-19 testing is slated to return to the Archuleta County Fairgrounds this week.
A free COVID-19 testing site is opening at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, located at 344 U.S. 84, in partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado.
Testing will be available on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14 and 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Testing will also be available Wednesday, Jan. 20, and Friday, Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
After that, beginning the week of Jan. 24, the test site will be open, again from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
You can register for your free test by going to www.covidcheckcolorado.org and selecting “Get My Test.”
According to a COVIDCheck Colorado flier, “COVIDCheck Colorado uses a highly sensitive and reliable nasal mid-turbinate swab PCR test that is administered by licensed medical professionals. Please arrive wearing a mask.”
Testing also continues to be available at a number of local health care facilities, including:
• Archuleta Integrated Healthcare: 264-2104.
• Pagosa Medical Group (including rapid testing if deemed appropriate by a provider): 372-0456.
• Pagosa Springs Medical Center: 731-3700. The facility offers testing for symptomatic patients through its clinic and offers testing to asymptomatic individuals who may have been exposed through drive-through testing to the right rear of the medical center. The drive-thru testing is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day but Sunday.
The state also announced this week that Colorado is one of three states with early access to the home-use BinaxNOW program, which it announced will be used for a new at-home testing program for teachers, staff and selected students at participating schools, including Archuleta School District schools.
The program is intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools by allowing symptomatic and exposed individuals to get tested quickly and easily, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) explained.
COVID in Archuleta County
Since moving to Level Orange: High Risk from Level Red: Severe Risk on Jan. 4, Archuleta County has tallied 44 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among permanent residents.
As of Wednesday, the cumulative number of lab-confirmed cases since March 2020 was 552, and the total number of cases among nonpermanent residents since June 2020 was 117, according to San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) data.
SJBPH reported no active outbreaks and no deaths among cases in Archuleta County as of Wednesday.
However, the state’s COVID dial dashboard lists Archuleta County’s two-week cumulative incidence rate as 571.3 new cases per 100,000 residents, landing the county in the red category again this week for that metric.
“SJBPH is monitoring the incidence rate (as well as hospitalization and positivity rates) over the two week period from when the county moved into Orange on January 4th,” an email from SJBPH Director of Communications Claire Ninde states.
Ninde explained that current state public health orders call for a consultation between SJBPH and the CDPHE if Archuleta County remains above 350/100,000 threshold for the period of 14 days (through Jan. 18).
“The product of that consultation could be targeted intervention measures, a county mitigation plan, or moving Archuleta County to Level Red,” Ninde explained. “It is likely that several counties will reach fourteen days of high incidence rates all on the same day because the Governor moved them all to Level Orange on the same day, so this process could change.”
For more information on the COVID dial, visit covid19.colorado.gov.
The state suggests that people with symptoms should always get tested immediately. Symptoms include:
• Fever or chills.
• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
• Muscle or body aches.
• New loss of taste or smell.
• Sore throat.
• Congestion or runny nose.
• Nausea or vomiting.
Steps to slow the spread
Public health officials urge the continued practice of precautions:
• Staying at home as much as possible, especially when feeling unwell for any reason.
• Avoiding social gatherings with more than one household, especially indoors.
• Encouraging employees to work from home whenever possible.
• Practicing physical distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from another person).
• Wearing face coverings when in public, as required.
• Practicing good hygiene (washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.).
• Getting tested if you have symptoms or believe you’ve been exposed through a known contact or community interaction.