Free COVID testing opens at downtown Aspen location
Kiosk behind City Hall available to anyone, with or without symptoms; no doctor’s prescription needed
Free COVID-19 testing for anyone in Pitkin County who needs it opened Monday at a site behind City Hall in Aspen.
The kiosk is staffed by employees from Aspen Valley Hospital’s primary care site in Basalt and will be available to anyone regardless of whether they have COVID symptoms or not five days a week until Dec. 1, when it will go to seven days a week, hospital CEO Dave Ressler said Monday. A doctor’s prescription is not necessary to receive a test at the site.
“This is for anybody,” he said. “If we get overrun and we can’t make sure we can get symptomatic people in as a priority, we might change that, but anybody who needs to get tested can get tested.”
The tests are being conducted out of the city of Aspen’s kiosk/trailer used for carpools, which is now located in the alley behind City Hall in downtown Aspen.
“We’ve got a lot of availability for testing coming online,” Aspen Mayor Torre said.
The site is utilizing tests made by a company called Curative, and they are highly accurate and easy to use because only a saliva swab is needed, Ressler said. The state of Colorado is paying for the tests through Dec. 30 with federal CARES Act money, he said. The county, AVH and the city are figuring out how to pay for the effort in 2021.
Those who need a test to travel or for other purposes should go to Curative’s website (curative.com), enter Aspen’s 81611 zip code to find testing options in Basalt at the Aspen Valley Primary Care facility or in Aspen. The site lists how many spots are available per day and allow those who want to be tested to sign up for an appointment (available 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. currently).
“We encourage folks if they’re feeling any symptoms or had any contact with someone with COVID to please use this testing,” Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said.
Dr. Brooke Allen of Roaring Fork Neurology in Basalt also has established free COVID-19 testing sites in Basalt and Glenwood Springs using a different test made by Microgen, Ressler said. The test is equally as accurate as the Curative test and as easy to use, he said. Those tests are also being paid for by the state, Peacock said.
A message left Monday for Allen seeking more information was not returned.
Aspen and Pitkin County have received 8,500 Curative tests so far, with 2,000 reserved for testing at the Aspen School District, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock. The county has requested another 5,500 Curative tests, which must be used by Dec. 30 when the state/federal funding that pays $125 a test runs out, he said.
“We’re working on (funding) options for tests available into 2021,” Peacock said.
Like Colorado and across the country, the number of COVID-19 cases in Pitkin County continues to rise.
On Monday, the county reported 104 new cases among residents in the past two weeks, with the highest number of daily cases reported Nov. 13 when 19 people tested positive for the virus, according to local epidemiological data. Seventeen new cases were recorded Saturday. The county has reported a total of 436 COVID-19 cases since March 1, meaning that nearly a quarter of those have come in the past two weeks.
The local incidence rate — which is measured per 100,000 residents — also continues to increase. It topped 600 for the first time Sunday, when the rate measured 608, according to the local data. Anything above 350 is in the Red level zone of state-mandated restrictions.
The chief of staff at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment told local officials during a Pitkin County Board of Health meeting Thursday that she expected the county would be moved to Red level restrictions by Friday (Nov. 27) because of the incidence rate.
However, Peacock said local public health officials later clarified with Mara Brosy-Wiwchar that at least two of the three metrics that determine a county’s restriction level must be in Red before the state will move a county to that level. When she made that statement last week, Brosy-Wiwchar was assuming that Pitkin County’s positivity rate would soon rise to join the incidence rate, Peacock said Monday.
But for that to happen, the positivity rate here would have to jump significantly and cross the Red threshold of 15%, Peacock said. The state’s COVID-19 Dial had Pitkin County at 4% positivity rate Monday, which is in the lowest Green level, while local epidemiological data, which tends to lag the state’s reporting, pegged the rate at 7.4%, which is in the Yellow level.
The third metric — hospitalization rate — also remains low and has been comfortably in the Green level for months.
Peacock said he doesn’t expect the positivity rate to jump, especially with the increasing amount of testing available locally. Public health officials have said they want to keep the positivity rate under 5%, which indicates enough testing is being done.
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The steep Jail Trail that leads into downtown Aspen is getting a better grade to address safety concerns and make it easier for people to use.