HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Thursday marks the last day of COVID-19 testing in Hays County in partnership with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas Army National Guard and the City of San Marcos.
The free testing at Toyota Rattler Stadium in San Marcos began on Sunday, July 12, and was the latest in a series of testing windows.
Thousands of tests have been administered through June and July.
“It’s important that we have availability the across the county,” says Alex Villalobos, Hays County emergency management coordinator.
As that partnership comes to an end, Hays County officials they’re working on others to keep mass testing available for the public.
“We have a real appreciation for public private partnerships. Those are the vessels that create the most efficiency. Those are the vessels that create the most coverage,” says Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra.
One in the works is with CommuniCare Health systems in Kyle and Wimberley.
They say there are several other agreements in the works, too.
“You want to make sure that we’re not overburdening just the front-line staff that are actually providing the test. And I think that’s what we’re trying to do with broadening the testing opportunities throughout the county rather than just to one spot,” Villalobos says.
The testing protocol might also look a little different.
“With TDEM right now… There are no requirements; you don’t have to be showing symptoms, you don’t have to be a resident of Hays County, you can walk up– no appointment necessary, no screening prior to getting there. Are those the ideas that will continue with these public private partnerships, hopefully?” KXAN’s Tahera Rahman asked.
“The other one will have some level of limitation. And our goal is to have as few of those as possible, but it’s inevitable that we will have some,” replied Judge Becerra.
Villalobos says the contracts with medical providers are still being finalized and will need final approval from county commissioners.
He says the goal is to have a new set of testing dates and locations for the public by August 1st.
Villalobos says they are also looking to lease a building in San Marcos so the county can offer their own tests.
“We’re also still feeling our way out for other sites, in particular the west side of Hays County so that we can support another site on that side,” Villalobos told commissioners.
He says they are considering testing sites in Wimberley and Dripping Springs.
In the meantime, Becerra and Villalobos say people can still get tested through the county at Live Oak Health Partners Community Clinic.
They say because it’s a small space, patients are required to call ahead of time to schedule an appointment.
The county is still offering free tests for those who are under-insured or uninsured.
Targeting the college student population
There is also a focused effort on young adults, which still make up the largest number of confirmed cases in Hays County.
Villalobos says he is working with Texas State University’s chief medical officer, Dr. Emilio Carranco, to set up a “parallel testing site on campus.”
The county is also setting up a messaging task force to encourage college-aged people to get tested.
That may include partnering with the City of San Marcos to send mass texts, emails and phone calls and post messages on social media as well as in neighborhoods where students live.
Villalobos says he’s already been in contact with student leaders to be on that task force.