A Mobile Coronavirus Testing Site For La Plata County Opened In Durango Today

March 20, 2020
Medical personnel wait for the next patient to pull into the bay to be tested for the coronavirus during a drive through testing facility at the La Plata County fairgrounds Friday afternoon.Medical personnel wait for the next patient to pull into the bay to be tested for the coronavirus during a drive through testing facility at the La Plata County fairgrounds Friday afternoon.Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
Medical personnel wait for the next patient to pull into the bay to be tested for the coronavirus during a drive through testing facility at the La Plata County fairgrounds Friday afternoon.

Health officials in Durango spent Friday testing people for COVID-19 at a mobile testing unit for the first time.

The drive-up test site had about 100 tests to give out and were only testing people who are most at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus — the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
La Plata County sheriff deputies and medical personnel get ready to open.
Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
Liane Jollon, director of San Juan Basin Public Health, addresses the media Friday afternoon.

People needed a doctor's note to get the test. The La Plata County Sheriff's Office had the parking lot barricaded so there was only one entryway at the county's fairgrounds.

By the time officials in masks and protective suits started letting people through the facility at about 12:30 p.m., there were about 15 cars in line.

Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging
A line of cars begins to build at the entrance to the La Plata County fairgrounds Friday.
Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
Two large bays wait for cars to filter through so medical personnel can test patients.

Liane Jollon, director of San Juan Basin Public Health, says there is a significant shortage of test kits nationally, in Colorado and in La Plata County. Because of the limited number of tests that have been performed, she believes the number of COVID-19 cases in the community has been underreported.

"This first testing opportunity will be limited but will provide us a snapshot of the spread of the disease in our community," she said.

Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
Medical personnel speak with people waiting in line to get tested for the coronavirus.
Chris Neal/Shooter Imaging/For CPR News
Medical personnel collect items from a person waiting in line to get tested.

Jollon said restrictions on public life might last a while.

"So when we ask the question, 'How long are we going to be at this?", unfortunately the answer is, 'The better we do at this, the longer we're going to be at it. And we're looking at something we're not measuring in weeks," Jollon said. "And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the longer we do this, the more lives we save."

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