Could the president’s new mandate overwhelm COVID testing labs in Colorado?

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — A new federal order that begins in just a few weeks could put another 25,000 daily COVID tests onto lab workloads here in Colorado.

Under President Joe Biden’s mandate, anyone working for a company with 100 or more employees will have to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or provide a weekly negative COVID test.

Biden’s administration has been pushing to rapidly authorize at-home COVID tests to aid with testing burden. Estimates say Colorado’s daily testing load will be the highest ever if at-home tests aren’t widely available.

The state’s testing capacity was 39,000 per day in mid-September.

The daily number of tests peaked last November and fell until July before shooting back up. Between Sept. 1 and now, the 7-day average daily number of people tested was 30,000-35,000.

According to estimates from Colorado Department of Labor and Employment data, there are about 800,000 people in Colorado who work at companies with 100 or more employees.

Assuming those employees are vaccinated in the same proportion as the state, which has 78.14% of its eligible population vaccinated, the number of unvaccinated workers in this category would stand at 176,000.

It’s impossible to know just how many of these workers will opt for vaccines or weekly COVID tests.

If most or all decide on tests, the state will exceed the daily testing numbers of last November’s testing peak.

If the number of unvaccinated workers getting tested is spread out evenly through the week, it would put another 25,000 per day onto the existing testing load. That brings the total number of COVID tests to just over 58,000 per day.

This would be 7,000 more daily tests than the 2020 Thanksgiving peak.

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