coronavirus

Tarrant County Working on Adding Two New COVID-19 Testing Sites, Judge Says

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Tarrant County could see two additional testing sites for COVID-19 by the end of next week, according to Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.

Whitley said the county has been talking with officials at the UNT Health Science Center and UT Southwestern in Fort Worth.

“They’re going to bring probably their own PPE, their own test kits, things along those lines and what we’re probably looking at is one in Fort Worth initially. We hope, hope, hope that by to the middle to the end of next week, that we’ll have one in Fort Worth and one in Arlington,” he said.

UNTHSC confirmed Thursday, they were in the process of working with leaders in Tarrant County, Fort Worth and Arlington on developing and locating COVID-19 testing sites for people who currently don’t have access.

Plans are still being finalized, according to an UNTHSC spokesperson.

Whitley said those two sites would be funded by the county and once they are up and running, there could potentially be more added in the subsequent weeks. These would not be set up as drive-thru sites and people would still need to be referred before being tested, according to Whitley.

“I think the primary schedule that I’ve seen is basically working from 8 to 5, probably seven days a week. I would hope that initially, we may be talking about 100 tests a day, or 75 to 100 a day,” he told NBC 5 Thursday. “At that point in time, that test – it could be sent to Quest. It could be something done here locally. It could be sent to LabCorp or any other location of labs. We’re hopeful the turnaround will be within a 24 hour period.”

This week, the JPS Health Network announced they were able to provide in-house testing. This is expected to reduce the time physicians confirm their patients’ COVID status from several days to about an hour, according to JPS officials.

Rapid testing capabilities at JPS now include the Cepheid COVID-19 RT-PCR test, the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19-Molecular test, and the OrientGene Biotech AB test.

“This is a tremendous win for our community," JPS president and CEO Robert Earley said in a news release. "Our patients need this, and the cooperation that has made this possible is civic duty at its best. I think everyone realizes what’s at stake and is eager to be a part of the solution."

A spokeperson for Walgreens also confirmed to NBC 5 as of Thursday, plans to open two COVID-19 testing sites in Dallas-Fort Worth area in the coming weeks are still on.

“At this time, there will be no cost to individuals who meet CDC criteria to be eligible to receive testing, and patients will be required to take an online health assessment in advance,” an email to NBC 5 states.

Though more testing sites are in the works, Whitley noted there is still a scarcity of tests nationwide.

“Some of these other big manufacturers, as they have been producing the tests, basically, the federal government says 'We’re going to direct where they go and they’ve gone to New York, California, or Washington'. We’ve just now beginning to see an opening up,” he said. “They’re opening up quite a bit, but we’ve got 2.2 million people in Tarrant County. We’re never going to get to the point, I don’t believe, that we say anybody who wants to be tested can get tested.”

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