Omicron Variant

COVID-19 Testing Sites Continue to See Increased Demand on New Year's Eve

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Some COVID-19 testing sites that would otherwise be closed for New Year’s Eve opened up Friday to meet the increased demand.

One of those sites that remained open Friday is the TEXRail North Side Station in Fort Worth. Brian Tezeno, code compliance officer with the city of Fort Worth, said the site saw at least 500 people by the time it closed at 5 p.m.

“With community demand and need, we opened it today,” Tezeno said. “About two weeks ago, we were doing double-digit numbers and it’s been triple digits ever since Christmas break.”

The site in Fort Worth is not the only place that has seen an increase in demand. Alyssa McElya, chief operations officer at the Neighborhood Medical Center in Dallas, said they began to see more people in need of tests about 10 days ago.

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“We actually broke our record from last year to this year. Last year, the record was 940 in one day. This year, we hit 1,058 in one day. It’s all due to Omicron. It’s just crazy,” McElya said Friday. “It’s people that are concerned about their loved ones and they’re doing something. It’s people who are actually symptomatic and want to know if they have or not. It’s someone who has been exposed, and they’re kind of freaking out.”

McElya said they broke the record on Wednesday when the wait time for a test was about two hours from the time someone arrived at their site to when they were finished. With three staff members out sick with COVID-19, she said they have been even more short-staffed than usual and the wait time Friday was around four hours. 

“I got here at 4:30 this morning just to try to get things started to get ahead of things,” she said.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state has requested resources for federally-supported testing locations, medical personnel, and additional federal allocations of monoclonal antibodies. Regarding testing locations specifically, Texas has requested support for the following counties based on current COVID-19 metrics, including positivity rate and hospitalizations: Bexar, Cameron, Dallas, Harris, Hidalgo and Tarrant.

"Detecting COVID-19 and preventing COVID-related hospitalizations are critical to our fight against this virus," Gov. Abbott said in a prepared statement. "While the Biden administration has cut supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments and testing kits when they are needed most, the State of Texas is urging the federal government to step up in this fight and provide the resources necessary to help protect Texans. Testing sites, additional medical staff, and continued shipments of therapeutics from the federal government will help us continue to save lives and mitigate the spread of COVID-19." 

Across North Texas, the DFW Hospital Council is reporting an increase in the number of hospitalized patients sick with COVID-19.

“We’re up to 1,834 which is really the highest we’ve been in about 85 days,” council president Stephen Love said. “I had a meeting with our chief medical officers late last night. They said the majority of the patients are not vaccinated.”

Asked about the request from Gov. Abbott, Love said he was glad the state ask for more testing sites and resources.

“We think that’s very important. We certainly respect the fact that he’s asked for more medical personnel,” Love said. “In previous surges, the state has done a wonderful job in trying to get us supplemental staff. We certainly want to get as many monoclonal antibodies as possible. Putting the politics aside, we like what he’s asked for and we hope we can achieve those goals.”

Medical providers said they expect the increased demand in testing to continue for weeks. Those running sites said Friday they are ready to meet the demand, but they are asking for patience.

“Come with a full tank of gas. Come with something to entertain yourself and just be patient with us. We’re doing the best we can,” McElya said.

For information on where to get tested, click here.

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