Having labeled national COVID-19 testing  a "disgrace" last weekend, Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday that Colorado will seek a faster turnaround by using labs within the state.

During a news conference on Colorado's response to the pandemic, Polis said getting results back from national labs can take up to 12 days, making contact tracing useless in slowing the spread of the disease.

"That is unacceptable," he said. 

Instead, Colorado will funnel more tests to labs closer to home, such as Children's Hospital, National Jewish Health, and local private labs. A third, overnight shift will also be added to state-run labs to process more tests.

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"We can no longer rely on that national testing," Polis said, and later added. "We need to take charge here."

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Polis lambasted the national labs.

"The national testing scene is a complete disgrace," Polis said. "Every test we send out to private lab partners nationally — Quest, LabCorp — seven days, eight days, nine days. Maybe six days if we're lucky. Almost useless from an epidemiological or even diagnostic perspective."

Colorado has been averaging 10,000 tests a week and surpassed that in the past week, Polis said, adding the state is purchasing supplies in anticipation of ramping that up further.

The state ordered 300,000 tests and 800,000 swab kits from international suppliers and 500,000 swab kits from domestic suppliers which are expected to arrive by August 30.

Polis said one of the key factors in Colorado's testing success has been the use of the National Guard. The Guard will be deployed in Colorado through August, but Polis said he plans to ask the federal government to extend that.

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Polis also emphasized the importance of personal protective equipment, referred to as PPE, in combating the virus and noted that all K-12 school districts in Colorado will be provided with one face mask per week per teacher. 

Schools will receive the face masks regardless of whether they plan to reopen next month or only have remote learning. Schools with remote learning can stockpile the masks for when they reopen, Polis said.

The state is also working to expand contact tracing by training 750-850 more AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and VISTA summer associate volunteers throughout the rest of the year

"We're resourceful, we're resilient, we're going to get it done." Polis said.



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