The evolution of Pueblo's COVID-19 testing site

Posted at 7:16 PM, Nov 25, 2020

PUEBLO — We've made it to month 8 since Pueblo first opened its free COVID-19 testing site, but a lot has changed from then to now.

Mark Balsick, Owner of Radio Services, works closely with Pueblo's public safety and gets a Coronavirus test roughly once a week. When testing first began in Pueblo, Balsick expected the site to fail.

“It wasn’t pleasant and I didn’t think it was going to go over very well unless they figured out another test.”

However, since MAKO Medical took over the testing site after being contracted through the state, Balsick is humming a different tune.

“It’s far more controlled," Balsick said about the testing process. "You have trained people doing the testing. You, as a participant being tested, can watch them put your ID tag on the sample, so you know it’s yours, it’s not somebody else's. So you have some confidence in the results.”

When testing first began, many people were taking their own swabs from their throats and turning them in. Now, an employee is required to do the swab on the participant to maintain accuracy. The site also began one-time registration yesterday, meaning that if anyone needs to take multiple tests, they can register online just once, instead of every time they need to visit.

Brendan Costella, the MAKO Medical Site Supervisor at the Pueblo location, said he's noticed people are happier at the site ever since testing has become more efficient.

“Initially there were long wait times," Costella admitted. We’ve done a lot to reduce that, so people these days are a lot more at ease.”

Balsick left a message for anyone who is still hesitant to go get tested, saying "I see law enforcement’s efforts, I see fire departments efforts, they're all busting trying to make things happen for people, so help em' out. Use your common sense."

According to thePueblo Department of Health and Environment, there's been 7,171 confirmed positive and probable cases, as well as 102 deaths as of yesterday at 5:00 pm.