Hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests coming to Colorado, but they’re not enough alone, says Polis

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests will be in the state soon, but cautioned that testing alone isn’t enough to keep people healthy as the state starts to reopen.

Polis said 150,000 tests should arrive in Colorado by the end of this week and 150,000 swab test should arrive by mid-May. Plus, the Gary Community Foundation is helping to deploy hundreds of thousands of antibody tests. They show who has already had the coronavirus and is probably protected from it.

“As we open things back up, we’re still going to have large segments of our state population who are still unexposed and still susceptible to this virus,” said Dr. Glen Mays, the chair of the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy in the Colorado School of Public Health at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “To prevent going right back where we were a month ago – in terms of a large surge of demand for care – we need to be able to jump quickly on new cases and isolate them. And that means testing.”

But Mays and Polis both said more needs to be done to keep people healthy.

“While testing is an important tool…we’re working on it everyday, ” Polis said. “It’s not a panacea. It doesn’t solve this. We can’t just test and (contact) trace our way out of this.”

Some of Colorado’s models show that if the state solely focuses on testing, while drastically reducing social distancing, hospitals could be overwhelmed with 12,500 critical COVID-19 patients at the virus’ peak. Right now, the state has about 2,000 intensive care unit beds.

But the models show that if social distancing is reduced 20 percent, the state’s most vulnerable people continue to stay home and people keep on wearing masks, the ICU surge would be 1,420 beds at the peak.

“We need to manage our expectations and manage our behavior in the coming months,” Polis said.

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