Central Texas parents worry about sending kids back to school amid COVID-19 surge

Education

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A COVID-19 outbreak at a Georgetown summer camp has a Leander parent worried about sending her elementary-aged children back to school in a few weeks.

“It’s really scary for our kids and our babies that are going to have to go back into the school system,” said Kristie Straub. “We’re basically sending our children back — and I feel like the Delta variant is very different than what we’ve seen before.”

Kristie Straub’s elementary-aged children were attending a summer camp inside the Georgetown Square when it suddenly came to a halt this week.

“We received info that one of the students had tested positive, then the next day they told us two teachers were positive,” said Straub. “I felt like the safety protocols were on point with what I would expect to keep my children safe.”

Straub says the camp was requiring students to wear masks, conducting remote temperature checks and screenings before coming to camp that day and requiring students to wash their hands overtime they switched to another classroom.

Following the positive cases inside the camp, she and her family went to get COVID-19 tests.

“I went to Lago Vista to have my daughter tested and there was a long-line of cars,” said Straub. “That was the only test I could find in all of Austin, Round Rock and Georgetown the day of. I was taking the swab from her sample, putting it inside the white container and it was literally overflowing.”

The demand for testing has skyrocketed in recent weeks, according to Tarrytown Pharmacy.

“We were seeing 20 to 40 people testing a month and a half ago,” said Rannon Ching, Pharmacist in-charge at Tarrytown. “We’re doing 150 to 200 tests in a day, depending on how busy it is.”

At the height of January and February, Rannon Ching’s pharmacy was operating five testing locations. They’ve since consolidated to one, but could soon change that with the rising demand.

“We’re now opening up an additional site to accommodate different hours and more tests,” said Ching.

Even more alarming than the demand for tests is the positivity rate increase.

“We’re now solidly in the 10% positivity range, whereas a month ago we were in the 4% range,” said Ching.

“We’re going in the wrong direction, so I think it’s more important for people to remain diligent and encourage other people,” said Ching.

KXAN reached out to the Austin Regional Clinic to see what their capacity is currently:

“Austin Regional Clinic has plenty of capacity for a Direct COVID Test. Anyone without symptoms, even if they had exposure, can bypass an appointment with a physician and book online to get a test at an ARC drive-up testing site. We also provide COVID-testing along with a COVID visit at all primary care locations.”

The clinic says if a patient is symptomatic and needs a telemedicine visit, capacity is limited by the increase in demand for regular medical needs in the clinic such as well-child check visits, and now COVID-related telemedicine visits.

Patients can access more information about COVID testing at ARC at ARCcovidcare.com.

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