Long lines at San Antonio asymptomatic testing sites encouraging to city, medical workers

Many people without symptoms are carrying, spreading deadly virus

SAN ANTONIO – Asymptomatic people stood six feet apart in lines wrapped around buildings to get free COVID-19 tests at the AT&T Center on Monday.

According to a Community Labs spokesperson, when the testing opened at 8:00 a.m., there were already about 240 people in line.

The city and testing representatives said it’s a great sign to see people being responsible and making sure they’re not walking around with COVID-19 without knowing it.

“I had some visitors for Christmas, and I wanted to make sure that I’m safe and not contaminated,” said Renee Pashchell after her COVID-19 test at the AT&T Center.

“Our daughter traveled from Brooklyn for the holidays, and right before she departed, she got a COVID test. And since she landed, we wanted to get another COVID test on this side. The line is long, but it’s been moving pretty quickly,” said Pam Carpenter, who was also at the AT&T Center asymptomatic testing site.

The line was long all day at the Cuellar Community Center, too.

The AT&T Center, the Cuellar Community Center and the Ramirez Community Center are the three City of San Antonio locations where Community Labs is conducting free COVID-19 tests for people without symptoms.

“The demand has been really heavy over these holidays. We are testing about 3,000 people a day, which is up significantly,” Mary Ullmann Japhet, communications director of Community Labs.

Japhet said Community Labs is capable of testing up to 12,000 per day. They are encouraging people to keep coming.

“It’s the FDA gold standard -- it’s a PCR test -- and results are in within 24 hours. So that speed, the lab capacity, and the fact that it is the most accurate test available is really key,” she said.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing sites in San Antonio add Saturday hours

Japhet said many people who are tested without symptoms end up having COVID-19.

“Science tells us that 50% or so of COVID cases are spread by asymptomatic silent spreaders. These are people who are innocently walking around in the world not knowing they have the virus and are spreading it to others before they themselves have symptoms,” Japhet said.

That’s why she and others across the city are thrilled people are proactively taking responsibility at a time when COVID-19 cases have never spiked higher in San Antonio. This week’s case numbers prompted city and county leaders to close bars once again and limit restaurant capacity to 50%.

“If we can get those people who are positive out of our population until they’re better, we’re going to help suppress the virus,” Japhet said.

This week, the asymptomatic testing schedule is a bit different due to the holidays:

  • The Cuellar and Ramirez Community Centers are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Testing at the AT&T Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, except Wednesday because of the Spurs Game.
  • The AT&T Center will be the only asymptomatic testing site open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
  • Normal hours will resume at all sites on Jan. 4.

Find more testing information on the City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 testing website.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

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