San Miguel County Department of Public Health and Environment received the results for the first group of those who had the COVID-19 ELISA blood test Tuesday, according to a news release.

The group of 645 first-responders and their families all tested negative. Two parties had a mild signal change, although not enough to change the negative test results. In some cases, this can indicate early seroconversion. Officials spoke directly to these two individuals.

“Although the results did not come back as positive, we have asked them to self-quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, we have requested them to take the PCR nasal swab to compare the two tests,”  said Grace Franklin, director of public health.

Negative blood test results indicate that a person has not had exposure to the virus and therefore remains susceptible to becoming infected. This test should be repeated after 14 days to detect any changes in immune status.

Meanwhile, dozens of emergency operations personnel continue to work on logistics, equipment, legal and manpower needed to launch the first phase of three of the county-wide COVID-19 blood test in partnership with UBI.

Phase 1 is a pre-selected small group of teachers and their families. That phase should start later this week.

“We are excited to offer this unique testing opportunity to our residents. We are working out the final legal issues with UBI to be able to move forward,” county manager Mike Bordogna said.

Dr. Sharon Grundy, county medical officer, said, “We know people want to get tested, but I want to ensure everyone, there’s no reason to rush. We have shelter-in-place orders and people practicing social distancing. We will get folks tested, but those measures at the end of the day are the most critical.”

After phase 1 testing, staff will take a day to work out any issues with the process before beginning Phase 2, which will be for the residents 60 years of age and older in the East End of the county.

“We are taking into consideration the unique needs for our seniors by providing a selected time which will also allow some high-risk individuals to come get tested before the rest of the community,” Grundy said.

Phase 3 will begin the following day and include the rest of the East End county community, one neighborhood at a time.

“We will have an online registration system and will encourage people to register online on our county webpage (sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus) to offer convenience and minimize the time people will be at the testing site,” Franklin said. Details will be announced when that online registration is available.

The test is free and voluntary and will be held at the Telluride Intermediate School. A follow up test 14-16 days later is important to detect changes in a person’s antibodies. The test is not recommended for children 8 years old and younger.

Testing for the West End of the county will begin next month.

Meanwhile, public health officials have still not received notification from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment on the 100 swab tests they conducted March 17. Those results will be announced when they are learned after notification of appropriate individuals is completed.

For up to date coronavirus information, sanmiguelcountyco.gov/coronavirus.