Colorado state health officials announced Monday they are increasing support and testing capabilities in mountain communities and other communities statewide, including the addition of 50 nurses to help with the state’s COVID-19 response.

The nurses, from Freedom Health Care Staffing Co., are trained in providing care in crisis situations, a press release stated. They will initially staff testing sites and health care facilities.

The effort was funded by a portion of the $3 million from the Disaster Emergency Fund ordered in Gov. Jared Polis’ executive order.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment held a remote press conference Monday to update the status of COVID-19 preparations and practices in Colorado.

Scott Bookman, CDPHE incident commander for COVID-19, said there were 131 positive cases in the state as of Monday.

The state is looking to ramp up testing capabilities.

Currently the CDPHE lab is capable of processing about 250 tests per day, although other labs are trying to get up to speed so they can assist in processing tests.

The state is prioritizing testing in mountain resort communities because of documented transmission of the disease in those areas with a high number of tourists.

Telluride is the first location for those efforts, with a testing site scheduled to open today. Health officials will continue to conduct targeted testing in other communities.

CDPHE is also sending testing kits to other mountain counties to increase testing capacity. CDPHE requested and received additional testing kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, and these resources are being distributed statewide.

Data from mountain areas is scarce, and the National Guard is helping set up testing facilities in Telluride as well as communities in Routt County to obtain data for state epidemiologists to understand spread of the virus within the state.

Bookman said the department continues to evaluate status of health care in the system as the situation evolves.

Because Colorado now has the capacity for private labs to conduct testing, CDPHE encourages anyone who has symptoms or believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to call or email their physician first for guidance, obtain a doctor’s order for testing and request information about private providers where they can get tested. Always call first before reporting to a health care facility for testing.

Any medical provider with a relationship with LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics can test, but patients are asked to call their provider ahead of time. Many providers have centralized sites for testing due to safety precautions.

Continue to stay up to date by visiting colorado.gov/cdphe/2019-novel-coronavirus.

From our sister paper The Mountain Mail at www.themountainmail.com

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