People may face delay in testing, results due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in San Antonio

Bexar County Metro Health director says new access point for testing will be announced soon

Jerry A Mann, second from right, is held by his grandmother, Sylvia Rubio, as he is tested for COVID-19 by the San Antonio Fire Department at a free walk-up test site set up to help underserved and minority communities in San Antonio, Thursday, May 14, 2020. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has warned officials in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas that the cities could face lawsuits if they do not relax coronavirus measures he says go further than state law allows. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio health officials say the balance between testing for COVID-19 and processing those tests is “tough” due to demand, but locals should expect a new, large access point in the coming days.

Dr. Dawn Emerick, director of Metro Health, said the department is working with labs as they keep up with the demand for testing.

Tests conducted at the Texas MedClinic on SW Military Drive and at the Freeman Coliseum are being processed at the same lab, which is seeing a backlog, she said. Over the weekend, the testing site at Freeman Coliseum was completely booked through Tuesday and officials had to temporarily shut down the registry page.

Those who are awaiting test results should isolate themselves until they receive their results, she said, adding that it’s “not a perfect system” but helps prevent possible spread.

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Processing tests at labs have “been a challenge from day one,” she said during Tuesday’s daily COVID-19 briefing with Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

“We were always talking about how the lab and the lab supplies are our challenges. And, yes, they’ll continue to be that challenge,” she said.

She called it a “fine balance” because testing will not stop due to a lab shortage, but officials are trying to avoid a lab “crush.”

The city is trying to combat the backlogs with a coalition of representatives in the San Antonio Fire Department, health care systems, Metro Health, private providers and infectious disease doctors, she said.

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It’s a community responsibility, she said, when it comes to increasing access points for testing.

She added that “a pretty big influx of another access point” will be announced soon.

“That’ll put a whole another set of testing in the community as well that’s certainly necessary.”

Nirenberg said the best way to help is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

VIDEO: What is San Antonio’s testing capacity?

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.