Polis encourages protesters to get COVID-19 test

Expanded access to free testing at Pepsi Center includes 'anyone potentially exposed to virus'


After several days of protests in Denver over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Gov. Jared Polis spoke about the incident and advised protesters — who marched in large crowds — to be tested for COVID-19.

“What happened to George Floyd was not only wrong; it was brutal, it was inhumane and it was murder,” Polis said at a June 2 news conference.

The governor lamented violent protesters and vandalism distracting from the protest's “righteous message.”

But, he said: “Property can be cleaned, but the black lives that are taken cannot be replaced or brought back.”

Polis told peaceful protesters he is listening, and “more importantly, I want to work with you.”

Despite Polis' support for the motivation for protests, he worried about the effect of large demonstrations on the spread of COVID-19 and encouraged participants to get tested in light of their activity. The governor stressed the importance of wearing masks and staying 6 feet from others.

“Health experts tell me (the protests) could result in hundreds of new cases,” Polis said.

The City of Denver has expanded the criteria for its test site at the Pepsi Center in a way that includes those who attended the protests, and those participants should get tested if they develop symptoms — and they also should get tested if they have not developed symptoms about seven days after attending a protest, Polis said.

“That's the way we can act to (detect) earlier some of the folks who might be contagious without knowing it,” Polis said.

In light of the recent demonstrations and many people returning to work, Denver encourages “any participant who would like a free COVID-19 test” to come to the drive-up testing at the Pepsi Center.

“Only an individual's name and date of birth need be verified to obtain the test and receive confidential results,” the city said in a news release.

The testing is open to everyone, not just Denver residents, according to Tammy Vigil, a spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. There is no cost to anyone, whether they have health insurance or not, Vigil said.

The City of Denver expanded access to testing to anyone potentially exposed to the virus and those heading back to work amid the current phase of recovery in the pandemic, according to a June 2 news release.

“With expanded access, people who do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms but believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or have been deemed essential by their employers, are now eligible,” the release said.

The Pepsi Center site has been testing more than 400 people each day since it opened on May 22, with the ability to increase that capacity as needed, according to a city news release.

The site is open daily, excluding holidays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Individuals administer the nasal swab themselves to speed up the process and increase safety, the release said. If individuals are unable to, staff will assist.

The testing site is located in the Prius parking lot on the far west side of the Pepsi Center, accessible from the entrance at Seventh Street and Auraria Parkway. There is no access to the testing site off of Speer Boulevard or at the main entrance of the Pepsi Center, the release said.

For more information and how to register to be tested, see the city's website.


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