Coronavirus updates in Texas: Dallas’ Parkland hospital starting drive-through testing

Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
Parkland Hospital in Dallas. ((REUTERS/Brandon Wade))

Monday’s biggest developments:

  • The count of confirmed cases in Texas was 69 at noon Monday.
  • Dallas gets drive-through testing
  • State waives STAAR test requirements for school districts

Latest numbers say 69 confirmed cases in Texas

The count of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Texas reached 69 cases as of noon Monday. Four counties are now reporting community spread: Brazoria, Dallas, Matagorda and Montgomery. In total, 17 counties — and the Lackland Air Force Base — are reporting at least one coronavirus case. Since Sunday, the state has reported one additional case. — Stacy Fernández

Texas Education Agency waives STAAR test requirements

[10:42 .m.] In an unprecedented move, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he would waive testing requirements for this year’s STAAR exam, as many schools expect to be closed at least through the April testing window, due to the new coronavirus.

He also said he would ask the federal government to waive this year's federal standardized testing requirements, which apply to all states. According to the state, as of Sunday afternoon, 569 school districts had announced closures due to coronavirus concerns. Texas is not alone, since more than 30 states have closed schools due to coronavirus, affecting at least 30 million public school students nationwide.

The governor’s announcement comes a day after Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told superintendents and lawmakers on two separate phone calls to prepare for long-term school district closures, potentially through the end of the school year, especially in areas where the new coronavirus has spread.

Lawmakers from both parties, as well as school superintendents, had been calling on the state to cancel the test since it became clear students would miss many days of school, when districts started extending their spring breaks for a week or two. —Aliyya Swaby

Dallas gets latest drive-through testing site

[8:42 a.m.] Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas will begin drive-through testing its patients for the new coronavirus starting Monday afternoon, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Testing will only be by appointment and for current Parkland patients, first responders and health care workers. People will be interviewed by phone before they’re approved for testing, The News reported.

On Friday, San Antonio opened the state’s first drive-through coronavirus testing facility that is prioritizing health care workers and first responders. Gov. Greg Abbott announced more drive-through testing sites would open in Texas’ major cities including Houston, Dallas and Austin in the coming weeks after he declared the coronavirus a statewide public health disaster Friday. The announcement came amid widespread criticism that testing for COVID-19 has been too limited.

Austin’s first drive-through coronavirus testing center also opened Friday at the hospital group Baylor Scott & White’s North Austin clinic, located off Braker Lane near The Domain shopping center.

Drive-through testing centers will allow visitors to get tested without leaving their vehicles, limiting exposure for healthcare workers. They are expected to increase access to testing and decrease wait time for results. Houston has yet to announce a drive-through testing center.— Stacy Fernández