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State COVID-19 testing winds down in Hays

Staff Report

“Nationally we’re a hot spot, and regionally we’re a hot spot within our state,” County Judge Ruben Becerra said during commissioners court July 14.

Becerra and commissioners expressed gratitude to the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the National Guard for the free, no symptoms required COVID-19 tests administered to thousands of people in events in Wimberley, Dripping Spring, Kyle and San Marcos this summer.

The last, at Rattler Stadium in San Marcos, ended on July 16.

Becerra noted that Hays County was the first to have the TDEM testing, which has since been expanded to other areas of state. From the first event at Bohnam Pre-K in San Marcos to the final at the SMCISD stadium, the testing “improved exponentially” in terms of lines, test result return times and other issues. “There were no significant lines in the stadium,” he said.

State labs fell “terribly behind” in processing results of nasal swab tests, Becerra said. When the wait became untenable, the switch was made to a cheek swab, with most results coming back in approximately 72 hours.

Testing is still available locally through other avenues and includes both cheek and nasal swabs, including Premier ER and some Live Oak Health Partners locations.

The county is also working with Texas State University’s Medical Director Dr. Emilio Caranco about “parallel testing on campus,” County Chief of Staff and Emergency Management Coordinator Alex Villalobos.

He said he also hopes to have agreements for more testing in Wimberley and Kyle finalized by Aug. 1.

Tammy Crumley, the county’s director of Countywide Operations, said plans are in the works for more free testing. “It will be free but on a much smaller scale than TDEM.”

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