Colorado plans its own testing network to detect coronavirus

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DENVER  |  Colorado is setting up a testing network to identify coronavirus cases, officials said Tuesday.

Samples from patients at 12 hospitals around the state that were negative for the flu will be tested for coronavirus to help officials determine if there is possible transmission of the new virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

The number of tests to be conducted is still being evaluated, Rachel Herlihy, Colorado’s communicable disease epidemiologist, told reporters.

Colorado was relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct tests, but the state health department announced Monday that the state now has the ability to test up to 160 samples a day at its laboratory. Results are expected within 24 hours.

Colorado is also testing specimens from patients referred by doctors and county health officials who have symptoms and have either been in contact with someone else confirmed to have the virus or have traveled to parts of the world where infection rates are high or community spread is happening. Colorado’s testing criteria is more lenient than the CDC’s because it allows people who have traveled to virus affected areas but who have not been hospitalized to still be tested, Herlihy said.

Ten state agencies are in contact with Colorado’s incident command center set up to deal with any impact from the virus outbreak, said Gov. Jared Polis.

State officials have about 650,000 face masks that will be given to caregivers and others deemed at risk of being infected with the virus, Polis said.