Pitkin County testing plan not yet final, awaiting data after Friday’s pilot program | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County testing plan not yet final, awaiting data after Friday’s pilot program

A health care provider prepares to label a vial at the coronavirus testing location located at the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department’s Aspen Village Location on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

While local public health officials do not yet have a firm plan in place for Pitkin County’s first round of COVID-19 anitbody community testing, it is nearing completion, an official said Monday.

Officials want to be deliberate about the process so that the tests are properly administered and the information they provide is valuable to local efforts to fight the disease, said Gabe Muething, one of the commanders of the team leading the local response to the outbreak.

“We don’t want to go through testing for 1,000 people for naught,” he said.

Officials staged a dry run Friday, when they identified 10 people who’d had COVID-19 symptoms and asked them to report to the Aspen Village Fire Station. Health care workers operated out of a command trailer parked in one of the bays, while people being tested remained in their cars and drove through the other bay, Muething said.

Once inside the station bays, the person being tested stuck their arm out the window and turned their head to avoid any possible infection, while a health care worker pricked their finger and took a drop of blood, he said. The person then waited about 10 minutes for the results.

Muething said he did not have the exact results of those antibody tests Monday.

However, he said officials did not see red flags.

“We were certainly encouraged by the results,” Muething said.

The samples must be gathered and processed on site under strict temperature and other conditions, he said. The county sent the results of the tests and the conditions under which they were gathered to Englewood-based Aytu Bioscience, which designed the test, to make sure they are effective. The company has been responsive in working with the county to make sure the process is valuable, and officials were awaiting results of their analysis Monday, Muething said.

“That’s one of the pieces of this that’s encouraging to me,” he said.

Once the test and controls are validated, officials plan to post a form on the Pitkin County Public Health website that people who’ve had COVID-19 symptoms or are members of certain groups like essential workers can fill out to be part of the testing process. That form has not yet been posted, Muething said.

Pitkin County received 1,000 COVID-19 antibody tests from Aytu. Officials plan to use the data they generate to help determine the depth of the COVID-19 infection rate in Pitkin County, which they’ve said will help determine the strategy of unwinding restrictive public health orders.

Through Sunday, there have been 57 confirmed cases in Pitkin County since March 8 and two deaths, according to the state’s database updated Monday.

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