AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Division of Emergency Management is expanding a program that provides COVID-19 rapid tests to small businesses after a successful pilot program was launched in December.
The program will receive 1 million BinaxNow Rapid Tests, according to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Chamber of commerce organizations receive the supplies and distribute them to small businesses that want to participate in the program.
“The small business rapid testing program is protecting the safety of small business owners, their employees, and Texas consumers as we continue to combat COVID-19,” Abbott said in a statement. “By expanding this effective strategy, it will help us further detect and mitigate this virus so we can keep Texas safely open for business.”
The Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce participated in the state’s pilot program for small business rapid testing. About 65 businesses participated.
Penny McBride, the chamber president, said around 20% of rapid tests came back positive for coronavirus. While high, business owners were able to get employees into quarantine quickly.
“The response has been absolutely overwhelming and businesses are very happy to this tool available to them,” McBride told KXAN.
Boot Ranch, a golf course community in Fredericksburg, was otherwise an hour away from the nearest rapid testing site before taking advantage of the state’s program for small businesses.
“We’ve had situations where we’ve had to send 15 people to go get tested and to lose 10% of your workforce at the drop of a hat, there is never a good time for something like that,” said Brandt Kunz, the community’s human resources director.
The framework for the pilot program was first implemented by TDEM and the Texas Education Agency in schools last October, providing rapid tests for teachers, students, and staff.
Chambers of commerce wishing to enroll in the program can find more information here.
KXAN politics reporter John Engel will have a breakdown of the program tonight at 6 p.m.