Universal COVID-19 testing in San Miguel County hits delays

Coronavirus

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Telluride is as beautiful as a community as they come, so it’s no surprise it often receives national attention.

However, one month ago, all eyes were on Telluride for another reason.

“We were never looking to be an example or model but it turns out, a lot of eyes were watching us,” said Susan Lilly, a spokesperson with San Miguel County.

A local couple, Lou Reese and Mei Mei Hu, offered the county thousands of COVID-19 antibody tests free of charge. The couple runs a group of companies called United Biomedical.

The plan was to test San Miguel County residents, and then again two weeks later to track the virus and its spread.

However, a month later, that second round of testing still hasn’t happened.

Karl Watson had his blood drawn as part of the testing on March 31. He says he just got his test results back last Friday.

“That’s 3 1/2 weeks later. It doesn’t do a whole lot in terms of needing to contact people who I may have been in contact with,” Watson said.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers reached out to United Biomedical to discuss the delays in testing. Our calls and were not returned Monday, however, the company has said their plans in Telluride were sidelined by the surge in cases in places like New York where the test results of first responders become a top priority.

San Miguel County isn’t sure when its residents will be tested again.

“It turns out there’s no harm in waiting a longer period of time,” said Susan Lilly.

However, some like Watson wonder if it’s worth it, citing the thousands of dollars the county has already spent on equipment and personnel to administer the testing.

“If it takes another month and a half, is it still worth it to the county at that point? I don’t know if we can justify the cost,” Watson said.

Those concerns aside, Lilly argues there have been benefits that came from the first round of testing.

The results are in and only about 0.5% of San Miguel County residents who were tested had positive results for COVID-19 antibodies.

Lilly says those results confirm the county’s early public health measures were effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

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