‘It's Crazier Now' Says Operator of a Dallas COVID-19 Testing Site

Neighborhood Medical Center says it's nearly doubled the amount of patients they've tested a day since last month

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Outside Neighborhood Medical Center off Beltline Road in Dallas, you'll find cars snaked around the parking lot. Inside each vehicle, someone who is waiting to get tested for COVID-19.

"It is crazier now than it has ever been, I mean we were seeing about maybe 150 to 200 people a day. Now we're seeing upwards in topping in over 500 right now," said Alyssa McElya, the chief operating officer for the clinic.

In Oct. they tested 8,257 people compared to Sept. with 3,028. During the wave in the summer, they tested 3,319 people in June. So far, just 11 days into Nov. and they've tested 4,768.

Dr. Martin McElya, Alyssa's father, is the director for Neighborhood Medical Center. He said there's a direct correlation between the increase in testing after a major event like Halloween.

"We can almost predict when it's going to be crazy based on the previous week's activities. For instance, the weather gets cold, people go inside a week later, boom, they come. If there's a holiday, week later, boom, here they come. Back to school, a week later, boom, here they come. So, it is linked to what's going on in the community and what's happening with society," said Dr. McElya.

"We see it about three to five days before the predicted peak. I think everyone just kind of freaks out and wants to get tested because they know that peak is coming in. They're like, 'Okay there's a holiday, we're expecting to get more,' and sure enough it skyrockets," said McElya

She said 16% of the rapid tests are coming back positive, compared to 12% in June, but they're also testing more people.

The clinic said they have no doubt the number of people showing up to get tested will only increase as Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around the corner.

"We will see the numbers go up, unless people will start wearing the mask and start keeping the distance," said Dr. McElya.

He said he hears responses all over the map from people who have tested positive as to how they possibly think they got the virus. He said there are those who try to take care of themselves while others don't make an effort.

"That's fine if you want to put yourself at risk, but don't forget, you're going to go home and you're going to put your wife at risk, your daughter at risk, your family at risk, your parents. There are people who have reduced immune systems, who really are at risk for getting very very ill with this disease. So even though someone goes home, and they may be a relatively healthy person, they can carry this virus with them, and although they may have very few or no symptoms. They can affect someone who may have a terrible outcome," said Dr. McElya.

His daughter said it's also a result of COVID Fatigue.

"I think people are kind of sick of staying at home, they're lonely, they're bored, they want to go hang out with their friends. I get it, I mean I'm 28, I get it, but I think that's hindering a lot of stuff," said Mcelya. "We have people come in, that just aren't wearing masks. They're with their whole family, even though they tested positive a week ago, and it's like you're, 'You're exposing your kids, you're exposing your family."

Ultimately, the father-daughter duo, like many other health professionals, continue to urge people to hold on, continue washing their hands, wearing masks and keep social distancing.

Neighborhood Medical Center said they take insurance, but also provide free COVID testing for uninsured patients thanks to a government program.

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