More people getting tested but number of positives not climbing

Are allergies affecting people?

By Mark Reaman

Gunnison County has seen an increase in the number of people getting tested over the last week for COVID-19 but the test results coming back continue to be trending on the negative side. According to county public information officer Andrew Sandstrom, it’s a good thing that more people who are experiencing symptoms are getting tested.

“Having people call in and having them go through the testing process is a positive thing,” Sandstrom said. “It helps us monitor the overall situation in the county. Unfortunately it feels like the results are taking longer than we would like to get back. Instead of 24 to 48 hours, we are seeing it take 72 hours or more. It’s on the longer end.”

Over last weekend, there were more than 80 pending tests with 121 total positives reported for the county since the coronavirus crisis began. That caught the attention of much of the public. By Tuesday evening, the numbers indicated just 25 pending tests and 123 total positives.

“There has been a sudden uptick in the number of people wanting to get tested,” said Sandstrom. “We’re not sure of the reasons. It could be that it is allergy season and people are feeling similar symptoms, things like a drippy nose or having some difficulty breathing. It could be the number of new people coming to the county to visit. It could be that people are hearing so much about the spikes in nearby states that they want to be safe. Seeing so many of the tests come back negative is a good thing.”

Sandstrom explained that results are counted for people in the county but in a circumstance that for example happened last weekend when a tourist with symptoms took a test but left for home before the result which turned out positive came back, his case was not counted as a positive in the county.

Like everyone, the Incident Command Team is hearing about concerns about the lack of social distancing at times throughout the county. “As we have relaxed the restrictions it is still important to follow the health orders and guidelines. Stay socially distanced. Wear a face covering. Wash your hands,” advised Sandstrom. “We are definitely getting more reports of people not being in compliance. When we hear a complaint we pass it along to law enforcement and HHS, who checks it out. Their first action is to educate the people who might be violating the orders.”

The county is now trying to upgrade its website so it has more current information and is easier for the public to use. A new business information dashboard has been added and work is being done to upgrade the look of the data available to make it simple to track results. “We are trying to get more live data into the dashboard,” explained Sandstrom.

The call-in line is operating live Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays, and Sandstrom said the voicemail and emails connected to the line are monitored frequently.

Meanwhile, Colorado Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday declared that bars and nightclubs would be ordered to close once again to in-person service after two weeks of slight upticks in coronavirus cases in Colorado and large spikes in two neighboring states. He said that change would begin within 48 hours but did not specify exactly when the establishments would have to close.

Sandstrom said the county is looking at how the state changes would impact the county but noted that because most “bars” in Crested Butte and Gunnison provide food, they would probably not be forced to close.

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