A pilot program brings 300 free COVID-19 saliva tests to Tarrant County on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the first round of tests have already been assigned.
Tarrant County partnered with the city of Fort Worth to launch the pilot program, which tests 300 people a day at J.P. Elder Middle School on the city's North Side.
The tests are free for anyone in Tarrant County and you do not need to show symptoms to get the test, but you must register ahead (by clicking here or by calling 817-248-6299).
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“Readily available testing with timely results plays a critical role in our continued efforts to prioritize public health and keep Fort Worth’s economy open,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price in a press release. “This saliva testing pilot program is a great opportunity to provide accessible testing alternatives to our residents to help slow the spread of COVID-19, while also increasing testing capacity in an area with increased positive cases.”
City leaders hope the less invasive saliva test will prompt more people to get tested.
"As the Mayor said it's a quick turnaround, two, max three days," said Fort Worth City Councilmember Carlos Flores. "It is accurate and, the best part, it's painless. All you have to do is spit into a tube, fill it to a certain amount, close it, and you give it to one of the volunteers that will be there at the testing site."
A representative with the city's Office of Emergency Management tells NBC 5 increased testing in hot spots helps everywhere, as more people find out if they're sick and do the right thing to lessen the spread of COVID-19.
Fort Worth and Tarrant County have 3,000 tests from a lab in New Jersey and plan to administer them at a rate of 300 a day, but they expect this to be just the beginning.
"I think the public's got every right to be concerned when they hear a simple number of 300 tests a day in a community of 900,000 people. But what we're doing here is starting with 300 a day so we can figure out what our processes are," said Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis. "What we don't want is people sitting out on the street, waiting, getting frustrated with us. We want them to have the confidence that we have their back and we know what we're doing."
The testing site's location in north Fort Worth is focused on addressing the need for more COVID-19 testing in the county's Hispanic communities and in the 76106 ZIP code, the city said.
The goals of the pilot program are to make test results available quickly, to increase testing capacity to meet needs and demand, according to the city of Fort Worth.
Tuesday's and Wednesday's 600 total tests have already been booked. More tests are expected to be offered after the initial phase of the program is assessed.