[Update June 3 at 12:35 p.m.: the Mayor’s office has announced that testing is not restricted to only people with symptoms. Now if you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or you have to return to your workplace — you now eligible to register for a free test. Currently, the site is testing 400 people a day but have the capacity to test more. The article has been updated accordingly]
On May 22, Colorado opened its newest and largest free coronavirus testing site in the state at the Pepsi Center. Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms, believes they have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 or are returning to the workplace can get a free test. All you have to do is register at Denvergov.org or call 311. You do not need a doctor’s note, insurance, or to be a Denver resident to receive the test. You do need some form of identity verification but that can be anything from a passport to a driver’s license or a library card or a water bill (more examples here). Unlike the last large scale drive-up testing site in Lowry — this one hopes to be much more efficient.
Polis explained this site will be much faster as the tests have been updated so patients can self administer them by rubbing the cotton swab around your inner-nostril rather than having a healthcare provider do a deeper nostril swab for you. Additionally, unlike when Lowry opened, the test site is now one of 34 others spread across the state.
Currently, Denver hopes to test 1,000 people a day and the state aims for 8,500. Denver is currently only testing 500 a day but has the capacity to test around 4,000. However Mayor Micheal Hancock says that due to Denver’s population size, the recommendation is still around 1,000 a day. (According to Hancock, the CDC recommends 150 residents per 100,000 people get tested a day.)
Minnesota, which has a population close to Colorado’s, initially aimed for 20,000 a day statewide but is currently only seeing closer to 5,000 – 9,000 tests a day. According to the Minnesota testing center, some people are choosing not to get tested. Polis provided another theory for lower rates saying, due to social distancing and school not being in session, there are fewer people experiencing flu and cold symptoms. Since those symptoms are similar to the coronavirus’, they would likely drive more people to get tested.
“If you have symptoms, a cough a fever, we want you to get tested,” reiterated Polis.
Hancock mirrored that sentiment adding that the testing is purely about the virus and those without insurance or documentation do not need to worry.
“I want to be very clear to all of our residents in the metro area, we aren’t asking any questions about citizenship here. When you come through there’s nothing on the form to denote whether someone is a citizen or not. We don’t care if your a resident of Denver, or Jefferson County or Adams County or Douglas County this is all about the virus… We want folks to come to get tested,” he said.
For more information on how to get tested, go here. To see more testing sites across Colorado go here. If you are unable to come to a testing site, you can schedule a mobile test to come to you in Denver by calling 311.
The Pepsi Center is located at 1000 Chopper Circle, Denver.