In the face of the latest surge of COVID-19 cases in North Texas, consumers tell NBC 5 Responds they are scrambling to find tests.
Read on to learn what’s happening and where to start your search if you need a COVID-19 test.
“It's a completely different world right now”
Last week, Maria Lucé of McKinney wanted answers when her vaccinated 16-year-old son lost his sense of taste and smell.
“We didn't want him to be going to school and infecting everyone else,” said Lucé. “We thought, let's just go get him a test. Lo and behold, that is not an easy process.”
Lucé said the closest urgent care required an appointment and the facility was booked for days. She said another location was closed because of a known exposure.
“By the third, fourth one we were like, what do we do?” Lucé said.
After at least two hours of searching, Lucé said she found a location that could test her son. The family drove to Frisco for a rapid test. It was the seventh location the family tried, said Lucé.
“You need to know the state of COVID testing and it's a completely different world right now,” she said.
Some public sites reopening amid surge in demand
Across North Texas earlier this year, many big, public testing sites scaled back operations when demand for testing slowed down and resources shifted to vaccination clinics.
Just recently, Tarrant County and Dallas County announced they would reopen some public sites to try to meet the demand for COVID-19 tests, but most testing is handled by private healthcare facilities or pharmacies.
Public health experts said testing remains vital for containing the spread of COVID-19, identifying people who need to isolate and seek treatment.
You can find a list of public testing sites in Tarrant County here.
In Dallas County, you can find a list here.
Where to search for COVID-19 test
To find a COVID-19 testing site, start your search with Texas’ test collection site map here. The site is managed by the Texas Department of Emergency Management. A spokesperson said the information is sourced with help from federal partners.
Once on the site, zoom into your location on the map and click each pin to get a rundown on whether the site requires an appointment, doctor’s referral and the type of test offered. Call ahead to ensure the information is current – before you drive over.
NBC 5 Responds asked the Texas Department of State Health Services if it has tracked any delays in processing COVID-19 lab results during this latest surge. A spokesperson said the state has not heard of any lab experiencing delays but said it’s possible some labs are taking an extra day or two to provide results because of the high volume of tests.
Home testing options
If you can find a home test, it may be an option for some.
“The ideal candidate is someone who knows they've been exposed and then develops symptoms,” said Dr. Karen Roush, Vice Chair of Pathology at Methodist Health System.
Dr. Roush said each kit will be labeled with information about the best uses for the test.
She points out there are different types of home tests. Home collection kits have you collect your own sample, then send it to a lab where results can take a few days.
There are also rapid result antigen kits that have you collect and test your sample at home. The tests are fast, but Dr. Roush explains they aren’t as accurate as molecular tests analyzed in a lab.
“It's not the most sensitive. You could still have COVID, but it would not be detected by the antigen test because of the limits of sensitivity,” explained Dr. Roush.
If you’re using a home test kit, follow instructions carefully - especially if the kit asks you to re-test.
In general, Dr. Roush said re-testing is a good idea for anyone who continues to feel symptoms after a negative test.
“If you don't feel well, even in the face of negative COVID tests, continue to follow up on that. I think that's what we should all be doing right now. I think most people are,” said Dr. Roush.
If you’re testing for a work, school or travel requirement – confirm if home test results are acceptable. In many cases, they are not.
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