COVID-19 Testing

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Photo courtesy of Johnny Lombino

Telluride local, Jeremy Womack, volunteers during the San Miguel County COVID-19 blood test.

Kaden Katz, Staff Writer

Telluride — The communities of San Miguel County are getting first hand experience of getting tested for COVID-19.

Throughout the past week, residents of San Miguel County received blood tests to determine the presence of antibodies to tell whether individuals had been exposed to the coronavirus.  Residents did not take this for granted, as thousands of people signed up to get tested, and hundreds of residents volunteered their time to help make testing go as smoothly as possible. Our little mountain town has stepped up to help deal with this pandemic.

Long-time local, Jesse Pekkala, was one of the many volunteers.

“From the analytical perspective, it’s important because it gives us a chance to identify potential carriers of the virus in our community, and subsequently isolate them to slow or stop the spread of the virus” said Pekkala. “It also gives us a baseline measurement of where we are now and again where we will be in two weeks.”

San Miguel residents who tested in the first round, will be asked to return for another blood test two weeks from the time they received the first test.

“This is an enormous undertaking, and it takes many hands to complete the task,” said Pekkala. “From the human or citizens side, it’s extremely important. This is a serious situation, and quite literally life threatening, and each one of us can and may be affected by it.”

Pekkala said his typical day during volunteering included arriving at Telluride Middle High School at 8:30 a.m., arming himself with masks and gloves, checking in, and then going to his station.

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Hundreds of Telluride locals stepped up to volunteer in the blood drawing process.

 Bryce Lambert is a senior at Telluride High School and received a blood test.

“The testing experience was all good. It went really smooth and I thought it was done very professionally,” Lambert said. “I think it’s good for your community because first off, it puts our name out in the news bringing more tourists to our town in the future, and second it makes us more safe with knowledge of our status.”

THS senior Ambra Jacobson said the testing really brought the community together.

“Getting tested was great. It’s a real community effort,” Jacobson said. ” The free testing is a true display of solidarity as we all face uncertainty. Who knows what the local tourism industry, which is driven by social gathering and economic stability, will look like this summer. The testing is both an important reassurance and a reminder that we’re all in this together.”

The second round of testing will begin this week.  According to a press release by San Miguel County, as of April 6, the county had results from 986 of the tests that were done on March 26 and 27.  Eight tests were positive, 23 were indeterminate (borderline) and 955 were negative.

For more information on San Miguel County blood testing and COVID-19 reporting, visit //www.sanmiguelcountyco.gov.