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Health

Drive-Through Testing Site For Medical Workers, First Responders Opens In Loveland

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Matt Bloom
/
KUNC
The main entrance sign at The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland welcomes medical workers for COVID-19 testing. The facility is being used as a temporary drive-through testing site.

Northern Colorado's first responders and healthcare workers are getting tested for COVID-19 at a temporary drive-through testing site in Loveland.

The facility, which is set up in the parking lot of The Ranch Events Complex, is one of three sites around the state supplied with staff and test kits from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Local health department workers from Larimer and Weld counties are helping run the operation.

Testing services are not open to the public due to a limited supply. Eligible front line workers include police, firefighters, EMTs and healthcare professionals. Those interested in getting tested for COVID-19 must be symptomatic and register beforehand through their employer.

Katie O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, said the site saw around 75 people during its first day on Tuesday. Their results should come back from the state’s lab within a few days.

“We’ve heard from our first responders and healthcare workers that if they don’t have a way to get tested, we have people out who can’t be helping,” O’Donnell said. “This is a good way for them to get tested and go back to serving our community.”

The effort comes as communities and states around the country struggle to get their hands on more COVID-19 test kits for the general public. O’Donnell said the county would like to open a public drive-through testing site similar to several held in Denver last month, but there still aren’t enough supplies to go around.

“There are a lot of rumors going around that test kits are becoming available and at the federal level they’ve said that they are, but we’re not seeing them,” O’Donnell said. “Until we see them we can’t stand something up because it’ll be a day or two and we’ll be out.”

 

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Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC News
/
KUNC News
Part of the drive-through testing facility in the parking lot of the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Northern Colorado has jumped in recent days.

In Larimer County, at least 107 people have tested positive for the virus. In Weld County, at least 296 people have tested positive, but the actual number of people infected is likely much higher because testing is so limited.

O’Donnell said the Loveland testing facility for front line workers will open once again on Friday before closing up shop.

“It’s a one-time deal,” she said. “Tuesday and Friday and then they’re gone.”

She said the county is still finalizing plans to build out a medical surge facility at The Ranch. The specific number of beds, type of facility and the staffing needs are still in flux.

“We don’t know what our hospitals are going to need most, but we’re getting ready because looking at what’s happening around the country we expect there will be some sort of a surge in our community,” O’Donnell said. “It would be really nice if we planned it and never had to use it but we expect we’re going to have to.”