County gets update on COVID-19 testing initiatives

The directive from Gov. Greg Abbott pushed back Hays County’s efforts to get bilingual information out about testing for the COVID-19 virus, commissioners and County Judge Ruben Becerra learned on Tuesday

Tammy Crumley, director of Countywide Operations, gave an update on testing and outreach efforts. Of the 1,300 tests originally made available to the county Health Department, 312 have been used and 988 remain. Additionally, Premier Urgent Care has conducted 273 tests. Thirty nine have been conducted by the health department and 17 through Live Oak Partners.

Crumley said the health department had gotten 68 calls regarding testing – which is only available after people displaying symptoms or believing they have been exposed are screened – and of that, a dozen callers never followed through.

The county is poised, Crumley said, to participate in the state’s contract tracing program, which is scheduled to go live on May 22.

When pressed for details by Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, Crumley said she hadn’t actually undergone training for tracing but had attended a webinar on the software required.

Ingalsbe also asked about the progress of producing flyers in English and Spanish and suggested that school campuses where meals are being distributed might be a good place to post them.

“We haven’t got them printed yet,” Crumley replied. “The governor’s requirement to test nursing homes kind of took over at the end of last week.” She added the flyers will be printed this week.

Pct. 2 Commissioner Mark Jones inquired about the fact Kyle has always led the county in the number of positive cases, but Crumley didn’t have an answer. Likewise, she said she could not answer Pct. 3 Commissioner Lon Shell’s question about how many people were tested in Wimberley and Dripping Springs during an opportunity on Mother’s Day. Crumley said she has not received results of the tests, which were conducted by the National Guard. “The volume of tests at their lab has overwhelmed them,” Crumley said. “We don’t even have a list of individuals tested to reach out to them,” for contact tracing purposes.

County Chief of Staff and Emergency Services Coordinator Alex Villalobos specifically addressed the
governor’s directive and the mobilization of county fire and EMS personnel. Overall, he said, it went well, however there were issues with people wearing protective gear in the heat. “I’m sure they will refine it and get it done.”

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