Starr County working to create COVID-19 drive-thru testing

Starr County working to create COVID-19 drive-thru testing
4 years 3 months 2 days ago Tuesday, March 17 2020 Mar 17, 2020 March 17, 2020 1:47 PM March 17, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

RIO GRANDE CITY – Testing for COVID-19 will soon be available in Starr County. Officials announced Tuesday they are working to open a drive-thru testing area in the next 24 to 48 hours.

A lack of testing is affecting communities throughout the United States. Doctors who met at the Starr County Memorial Hospital Tuesday afternoon discussed the challenges.

Dr. Jose Vazquez, the hospital board's president, said, "Testing has been difficult because initially all the testing material was coming through the state, through TDH. And, they were very limited in the resources as well as they were very limited in the amount of testing that they could be doing a day."

Dr. Vazquez said they found a way to work around that. "The testing that we are proposing is going to be through a private lab company that is going to be placed in a parking lot in STC — in the South Texas Community College parking lot. We are going to have a drive-thru type of an operation. And, we are expecting to be conducting all the testing in this county through that outdoors facility."

He said South Texas Community College granted them permission to set up the site on their grounds. A company is going to provide the infrastructure for the tent. They're still working to confirm the private lab they'll choose, but they have an ambitious timeline. They hope to be operational before the week's end.

The tent will function as a site for the collection and transportation of samples taken from patients with a doctor's referral. That referral will ensure parents are meeting state and federal criteria for the test, but those standards may be changing cautioned Dr. Vazquez.

"Patients that should be tested are those who have close contact with somebody who is a Coronavirus infected patient, healthcare worker working with confirmed cases of Coronavirus, and people who have traveled to the endemic areas which is kind of becoming blurred by the minute. Because, now we see cases more and more often and in more and more places. So, that restriction probably, I assume that sometime soon will be lifted, because everywhere else will be a hot area," he said.

So far, there are no confirmed cases in the Rio Grande Valley but access to testing has been a problem, one Starr County is hoping to address.

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