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Coronavirus testing bolstered in Southwest Colorado

Mercy Regional, San Juan Basin Public Health to offer free testing
Mercy Regional Medical Center will begin offering COVID-19 testing six days a week.

Testing capabilities for the coronavirus just increased in Southwest Colorado.

San Juan Basin Public Health and Mercy Regional Medical Center announced Wednesday they have partnered to offer free coronavirus testing six days a week at Mercy’s Horse Gulch location.

There is no fee for the tests, the announcement said, which were provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in an attempt to expand community testing throughout the state.

Whereas testing kits are still hard to come by in many parts of the U.S., residents in Southwest Colorado have several options.

Cedar Diagnostics was the first facility to offer communitywide testing on April 9 at the lab’s locations in Durango, Cortez and Pagosa Springs. The lab started offering antibody testing April 28.

Mercy, which originally tested only patients with severe symptoms, started offering communitywide testing April 28 at its Emergency Department, as well as at Durango’s Centura Centers for Occupational Medicine clinic.

SJBPH said Durango Urgent Care also has testing capabilities. Calls to the health care provider were not returned Thursday.

Testing at Mercy’s Horse Gulch location will be available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

People showings signs of the virus will be screened over the phone and can be tested the same day. A doctor’s note is not required.

“Centura Health-Mercy is grateful for this opportunity to offer additional diagnostic testing to our community through collaborating with San Juan Basin Public Health,” Mike Murphy, CEO of Mercy, said in a statement.

Health experts have maintained that having adequate testing is one of the key tools in combating the virus.

“Every additional diagnostic test taken gives us a better picture of where our community stands in relation to the spread of this disease and helps us make appropriate decisions on how we move forward,” Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH, said in a statement. “The importance of increasing diagnostic testing in helping control this disease cannot be overstated.”

It is unclear how many tests have been conducted in Southwest Colorado – health care facilities are not required to report that statistic.

As of Wednesday, La Plata County had 64 confirmed cases and Archuleta County had eight confirmed cases.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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