Drive-through COVID-19 testing is now in San Antonio. Here’s what we know.
A second facility is expected to open Wednesday, and officials are hoping to expand eligibility
SAN ANTONIO – WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Officials with the city of San Antonio announced Wednesday that a “large, pre-approved” testing site is open at the Freeman Coliseum.
The site will allow up to 16 tests per hour to be administered but there are caveats.
COVID-19 testing is available only for individuals who have been pre-approved by a doctor, first responders, healthcare workers and VIA bus drivers, according to a news release. Previously, only first responders and medical personnel were able to get tested at San Antonio’s first drive-through location, which has been demobilized.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, the San Antonio Fire Department said a second drive-through COVID-19 testing facility is expected to open in San Antonio sometime this week. The facility could open as early as Wednesday and officials said they are hoping to expand eligibility for who can use the drive-throughs to include some of the community’s most vulnerable, officials said.
While tests at the first location were initially only for first responders and public safety and health care workers, state and local officials said that they plan to expand testing eligibility at both locations to include people 65 years or older who have a temperature of at least 99.6 degrees and a doctor’s recommendation.
The testing location will operate similarly as the first, which opened Friday in the South Texas Medical Center. City officials said the exact locations are not being released until testing eligibility is expanded.
Earlier this week, SAFD released a video that shows how drive-through coronavirus testing works in the Alamo City. You can watch that video in the player above.
Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference on Monday that similar drive-through operations would be set up in the San Antonio area and around Texas, run by public and private facilities, and even the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Dawn Emerick, the director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, said it would expand testing eligibility at the drive-throughs it plans to set up this week to include people 65 years or older who have a temperature of at least 99.6 degrees.
They may be able to expand the testing to include more people in the future, depending on how conditions change, Emerick said. The Metro Health director said they have put together a testing task force at the emergency operations center that includes providers, hospital CEOs, and emergency services, which will look at testing criteria.
In addition to having certain symptoms, Metro Health’s current criteria generally requires a patient have certain risk factors like having been in close-contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, being a health care worker or first responder, or someone who is at a higher risk in order to be tested. Otherwise, without some kind of such risk in a patient’s history, they would have have to be hospitalized by their symptoms to be eligible to be tested.
Abbott said qualifications for getting tested could vary, depending on if a person goes through a private provider or a public health authority.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that San Antonio would be the first city in Texas to get drive-through COVID-19 testing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The tests, however, are only for first responders and public safety and health care workers, state and city officials said.
The facility opened Friday in the South Texas Medical Center. City officials said because it is not open to the public, the exact location is not being released at this time.
Testing will be held during business hours all week, according to officials.
If a first responder or public safety or health care worker is ill and meets the criteria for testing — meaning they are showing COVID-19 symptoms and have had a negative flu test — the organization for which they work will perform the coronavirus test, officials said.
The city said test results take an average of two days.
Abbott said in a news conference Friday that 39 people in the state have tested positive for the new coronavirus. He said 220 Texans have been tested and 75 others are currently undergoing testing. The positive cases do not include the 11 confirmed evacuee cases at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Abbott said more facilities will be coming to Houston, Austin and Dallas as early as next week.
State officials have asked insurers to waive costs on coronavirus tests and telemedicine visits concerning the new virus, Abbott said. He said many have agreed to comply.
Denver, Colorado, was the one of the first cities in the nation to offer drive-through testing. On Friday, Colorado Health officials said they were shutting down the testing lab for the day due to weather concerns. But testing in that city is expected to resume on Saturday, according to the Denver Post.
During a news conference on Friday, President Donald Trump announced that Google would create an online virus screening tool that would help people determine if they should be tested.
The president said officials don’t want people to get tested unless they have certain symptoms.
“It’s totally unnecessary,” he said. “This will pass.”
Residents should call 211 for more information on local testing.
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