Telluride Coronavirus Testing Uncovers Some Positive Results, But Also More Uncertainty

Coronavirus Masks Gloves Donated At CU Anschutz
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
After a donation drive, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers starts to pile up in a warehouse at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Of the almost 1,000 people tested for COVID-19 in San Miguel County, eight have come back positive and another 23 have either indeterminate or borderline results.

That means the person may have been exposed to the virus, but their immune system hasn't yet produced enough antibodies to register a positive on the blood test.

Officials say those people will be tested again in two weeks and should self-isolate.

“Health officials are being extremely cautious and treating positive and borderline results as presumptively active infections,” county officials said in a press release. “These individuals would have the potential to be shedding the virus and be contagious.”

San Miguel County in southwestern Colorado is the first place to embark on testing for all. Anyone can get a COVID-19 blood serum test, healthy or not.

So far, they have tested about 12 percent of the county’s 8,200 residents. The state has reported results for about three-tenths of one percent of Colorado’s total number of residents.

The experiment is being funded by two biomedical company executives who have a home in Telluride. Company officials hoped to determine how widespread COVID-19 was in the community. 

Using a serum test, antibodies will show up even if a person already had it and has recovered, or if they have it and don’t know it.

“Blood doesn’t lie,” said Mei Mei Hu, one of the co-CEOs of United Biomedical, the company performing the tests, in an earlier interview.

Testing continues throughout the community at schools and firehouses. 

“This tells us that there are a number of people who were and are carriers of COVID-19 and can therefore spread the virus to others,” said Dr. Sharon Grundy, county medical officer, in a statement. “This is why, more than ever, we need to focus on our behavior.”