Gov. Polis Announces Expanded Testing Capacity, Including All Who Are Symptomatic

Monday, May 18, 2020

WHEAT RIDGE — Gov. Polis provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the STRIDE Community Health Center in Wheat Ridge and addressed the state's increased testing capacity. 

Today Governor Polis announced that Colorado has reached a critical goal, and now has the supplies and capacity to test anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. On April 29, Gov. Polis set the goal of testing all symptomatic Coloradans by mid-May. At the time, the state was only able to test some symptomatic individuals. With the increased capacity, Gov. Polis is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested for the virus. 

“Getting tested is a crucial part of our response to this virus, and I’m proud to say that any Coloradan who is showing symptoms, can and should get tested,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This ensures that infected individuals get the care they need, and prevent spreading the virus to others. This is an all-hands on deck effort for Coloradans. Significant progress in expanding testing had been made through our partnership with cities, counties, hospitals, community health clinics, and retailers in every corner of the state.”

Colorado can now test:

  • Any individual who has COVID-19 symptoms

  • Any individual who is employed as a health care worker, nursing home worker or first responder

  • Any essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working, per state or employer guidelines

During the press conference, the Governor was tested for COVID-19 and expects to receive results in 48 hours. 

Governor Polis having a nose swab taken by a health care worker.

(Photo courtesy of David Zalubowski, AP)

The Governor was joined by Dr. Savita Ginde, Chief Medical Officer for STRIDE and Ben Wiederholt, STRIDE’s CEO. STRIDE offered its first COVID test in mid-March and has continued to help the state scale-up testing. As a community health center, they have gone above and beyond to provide testing, despite having a much smaller budget than many private partners. 

There are four ways that Coloradans can get tested:

  • Health care providers

  • Local community-based testing sites

  • Specialized testing sites

  • Private sector partners

Coloradans can get tested at no cost. The Division of Insurance has directed Colorado-regulated insurance plans not to charge copays for testing, and Medicaid patients can also get tested without cost. For individuals without insurance, community testing sites can send samples to the state lab and the state will cover the cost. In addition, Coloradans shouldn’t be worried about losing their jobs if they test positive for COVID-19 as most Colorado businesses are now required to provide paid leave for those who test positive. 

There are two types of test available: Viral (swab based) testing and Antibody (serology) testing. Viral tests determine if the virus is present in a person’s body. They are most relevant for diagnosing new infections quickly after a person has become infected, and help contain the spread. Antibody tests test for the body's response to the virus, and can be used in research to provide information about where the virus has been and the extent of its spread, but can’t be used in individual patient care due to outstanding scientific questions.