Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says federal support for COVID-19 testing in the county will come to an end this month unless a deal can be struck to extend testing beyond May 30.
Drive-through testing sites at the American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House can test up to 500 people each day, meaning the county could lose the ability to test 1,000 people per day by the end of the month.
"They said they were pulling back from continuing to do testing at the end of this month and so we're going to work on finding a way to keep that going -- probably need their help to do it, but we're working a lot of different angels to keep that going because that's an important community resource that we need," said Jenkins Monday.
The judge announced four new Walmart stores that will begin offering COVID-19 testing on Friday with the ability to test 50 people per day, three days per week. Even in a week, however, those four locations won't be able to replace the volume of testing done in one day at the federally funded sites.
The judge said he was working to keep the federal testing ongoing in some capacity but wasn't sure if the deal was going to get done.
"I think a good compromise would be for them to continue providing us the kits and providing us with the lab services, and then we'll take care of everything else," Jenkins said. "This has happened before. We had a deal where we were two days away from them leaving and we got an extension and then we got another extension shortly after that. I dont know if there will be an extension this time, but if they can keep the kits flowing and the lab services flowing, I think we can find a way, working with the city of Dallas and county of Dallas, to keep the sites open."
Jenkins said the county has been trying to secure their own supply of reagents and kits needed to do more testing, but that they haven't been successful getting them secured through state and federal channels.
Even with the 1,000 tests done per day at the drive-through sites, Jenkins said Texas ranks either 49th or 50th in the country when it comes to testing and that more testing is needed to reopen the county, state and country safely.
"We're nowhere near the rate of testing we need to have to have a safe reopening, that's why it's so important to make good decisions with personal responsibility," Jenkins said, who added that in addition to robust testing the the county also needed to see a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. To date, Jenkins said, the county hasn't posted a two-day decline outside of a weekend when there is traditionally lower reporting.
"As the rules keep changing from Austin and the focus on the federal government moves away from keeping you safe to the election, because the president is running for reelection, it's going to be imperative that the people that focus on how to keep our community safe are all of us, and you do that by making smart decisions," Jenkins said. "Just like if you had cancer, or some other disease, you would listen to your doctor and take their advice, you have a doctor on this public health committee and they've given you advice … I'd just recommend everybody read their advice and I hope you'll all follow it."
New COVID-19 Testing Locations
Kroger Health at CitySquare, 1610 Malcolm X Boulevard
Saturday and Monday, 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Thursday and friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
1025 W. Trinity Mills Road, Carrollton
Tuesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
9410 Webb Chapel Road, Dallas
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Walmart locations at 15757 Coit Road, Dallas; 951 Belt Line Road, DeSoto; 5305 N. Garland Avenue, Garland; 2501 Lakeview Parkway, Rowlett; will offer testing Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.
For more information: doineedacovid19test.com