High turnout at a COVID-19 testing site in Douglas County created “unsafe traffic conditions” recently as Colorado sees “a significant increase in demand for testing.”
Spokesman Brian Spencer with the Colorado Joint Information Center said by email that rising case counts across Colorado are being fueled by the omicron variant, and that paired with the typically high demand for COVID-19 testing near the holiday season is causing traffic at some testing sites.
“We still have (testing) capacity across the state,” Spencer said.
The City of Lone Tree said through its Twitter account on Dec. 26 that the state’s drive-through site on Sky Ridge Medical Center’s campus was seeing heavy traffic and up to two-hour wait times. The city urged people to consider testing at other nearby locations.
On Dec. 27, Sky Ridge Medical Center requested that the state close its testing site on the campus for the afternoon as traffic interfered with access to the facility, Spencer said.
“In partnership, we mapped a safe and suitable traffic flow to ensure those who seek testing have access while guaranteeing access to the emergency room for any Coloradan who may need emergency services,” Spencer said.
City of Lone Tree spokesman Austin Good deferred to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment when asked about traffic management on the site. The City of Lone Tree is helping to handle overflow onto RidgeGate Parkway and clear access for emergency vehicles coming and going from the hospital, he said.
Sky Ridge spokeswoman Linda Watson in a statement thanked the Lone Tree Police Department for helping manage traffic at the testing site, which sits on the south lot of Sky Ridge’s campus. She said signage will “ensure that our patients and EMS partners can easily access our Emergency Department.”
Daily totals provided by the Joint Information Center generally show a steady increase in the number of tests provided at the state’s two drive-through locations in Douglas County — the one at Sky Ridge and a second at the Douglas County Justice Center in Castle Rock — leading up to New Year’s Eve.
At Sky Ridge, the testing site logged 398 tests on Dec. 19. On Dec. 26, the site conducted 836 tests, 998 on Dec. 27, 1,117 on Dec. 28 and 1,042 on Dec. 29. The justice center’s numbers peaked on Dec. 29 at 734 tests, up from 107 on Dec. 19.
The drive-through locations at Sky Ridge and the Douglas County Justice Center do not require pre-registration, although it is strongly encouraged.
Spencer said a third testing site at EchoPark Stadium in Parker completed 552 tests the week ending Dec. 15 and 1,550 in the week ending on Dec. 22. The EchoPark Stadium testing site requires pre-registration.
Testing is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and the state is “encouraged to see so many people getting tested as a way to keep themselves, loved ones, and communities safe” from the virus, he said.
He urged anyone with symptoms to get tested, regardless of their vaccination status. Instructions are available on the state website for how to report at-home COVID-19 test results.
A representative of MAKO Medical, which operates the drive-through locations at Sky Ridge and the justice center, said pre-registration makes a significant difference in wait times and traffic clogs at testing facilities.
“The longer it takes us to register the parties on site, the longer it’s going to take folks to get through the site,” MAKO representative Scott Ross said.
Ross said staff at the MAKO facilities have high spirits and are braced to handle whatever level of demand they face in coming days.
“We’re doing our best. We’re out there servicing the community every day, and it’s almost 25 degrees in the morning when we start,” Ross said.