Summit County community COVID-19 testing sites to close by July

Summit County Public Health officials start transitioning COVID-19 responsibility to private health care providers

A MAKO Medical technician handles a COVID test at the Silverthorne drive-through testing site on Friday, November 20, 2020. Summit County Public Health officials are preparing to close the site on April 30, 2022.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

As COVID-19 cases remain at lower levels in Summit County than in 2021, local public health officials are planning to take a step back.

At a joint Summit County Board of Health and county commissioners meeting on Tuesday, April 12, Public Health Director Amy Wineland said the county is hoping to give the private health care system more responsibility when it comes to management of the virus.

The county plans to close its community testing sites over the next three months. The first one to go will be the Silverthorne Recreation Center site, which will close on April 30. Wineland expects the other two sites — the Summit County Senior and Community Center in Frisco and Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge — to remain open through June.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is tentatively planning to close the remaining community sites by the end of June, Wineland said.

“We’re really working on transitioning all of the testing, treatment and vaccination to the health care system, which is where people need to be going if they’re sick or they need a vaccine,” she said.

Summit County is now following new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics, which focus more on the virus’ overall impact on the community and less on individual case numbers.

Wineland said the changes are a result of declining cases and impact of the pandemic across the state. While cases of the virus remain a reality, the county is seeing fewer people experience a severe illness, which means a lessened impact on the county’s overall health care system.

In the past week, the county has reported an average 93.5 new cases per 100,000 people, no new COVID-19 hospital admissions and only 1.3 occupied inpatient beds with COVID-19 at the St. Anthony Summit Hospital. All of those metrics put the county in the “low risk” category.

The county’s COVID-19 vaccination rates have also increased in recent weeks. At least 51% of people have received a booster dose of the vaccine.

The transition marks a new era of the pandemic, in which people treat COVID-19 more like other common diseases, Wineland said.

“You don’t go to a parking lot to get tested for strep or for the flu,” she said. “That’s kind of what we’re trying to move away from.”

Once the testing sites are closed, people will still be able to access tests from their doctors. The public health department is also offering free at-home testing kits, which are available for pick-up at the Summit County Public Health Department Office (360 Peak One Drive, in Frisco), North and South Summit County Libraries (37 Peak One Drive, in Frisco, and 103 S. Harris St., in Breckenridge), the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (251 W. 4th St., in Silverthorne) and the Community and Senior Center (83 Nancy’s Place, in Frisco).

The county’s public health department also met with providers on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the changes and ensure they are prepared to support community testing and treatment needs.

Wineland said the transition of responsibility is following both a statewide and national trend as COVID-19 funding is going to end.

Assistant County Manager Sarah Vaine said the local health department’s transition will also allow the providers to prepare to take on some more responsibility.

“The longer we continue to provide those services, the less the incentive there is for the providers to offer that,” Vaine said. “There is this tension between encouraging provider networks to do vaccines and testing and back off in our role.”


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