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Denver Launching Coronavirus Testing To Help Communities Of Color

DENVER (CBS4) – The city and county of Denver is partnering with Denver Public Health to expand COVID-19 testing to under-served and disproportionately-affected communities. The new, community-based testing started on Monday at the Center for African American Health in North Park Hill.

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Over the next few weeks, they'll test at the site again, as well as four other sites picked by the Racial Equity Council, which was recently created by the Mayor's Office of Social Equity and Innovation.

According to the city, COVID-19 figures have shown a disproportionate amount of inequities in death by race and ethnicity - specifically with black and Hispanic communities. Experts have reported similar trends nationwide.

"The coronavirus epidemic has really disproportionately affected certain communities," said Sarah Rowan, a physician with Denver Public Health. "It's affected people of color at much higher rates with much worse outcomes."

According to Rowan, the disparities are clear to see when comparing COVID-19 outcomes across different neighborhoods. North Park Hill, North City Park, and areas along East Colfax Avenue are examples of neighborhoods that have been disproportionately affected, she said.

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"We see really some vast disparities," Rowan said. "The neighborhoods that tend to be lower income, have more individuals that are uninsured, more individuals who are Spanish-only speakers, those neighborhoods seem to have much higher rates of COVID-19."

For Denver, one solution is free testing. While the city will offer it at several community-based sites in the coming weeks, the Racial Equity Council is also in the process of determining other future locations.

"One of the reasons we believe there have been these disparities has been there has been a lack of access to testing, so we're trying our best to address that," Rowan said.

At the new, temporary sites, medical professionals will administer the nasopharyngeal swab tests, whether you're in a car or just walk up. While briefly uncomfortable, the tests are quick, and return results in 2-3 days.

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"If you don't get tested, you just flat out don't know, and there will be systemic impacts for people you people you come into contact with, including people you love," said John Reid, Development Director for the Center for African American Health, which is one of many organizations represented on the Racial Equity Council.

If your community organization is interested in hosting a free COVID-19 testing site in Denver, the city urges you to call Denver Public Health at 303-946-7471.

Below are the upcoming dates and times of free, community-based testing:

Saturday, June 13
Montbello High School
5000 Crown Blvd.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Thursday, June 18
Sam's Club
7805 E. 35th Ave.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Saturday, June 20
New Hope Baptist Church
3701 Colorado Blvd.
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Tuesday, June 23
The Center for African American Health
3350 Hudson St.
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (both days)

Friday, June 27
Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church
1500 S. Dayton St.
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

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