New public-private partnership opens up COVID-19 testing to more people in Hays County

Hays

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Under a new agreement with Hays County, CommuniCare Health Centers will offer free COVID-19 testing at their Wimberley and Kyle locations.

County commissioners approved the partnership on Tuesday.

The Wimberley location will be a drive-thru offered on Wednesdays, while Kyle’s will be a walk-in offered on Sundays.

Appointments will be required for both locations, says Hays County Emergency Management Coordinator Alex Villalobos.

“They are using days when their clinics are closed, to be able to transition and do testing,” Villalobos said. “We’re providing tests, we’re providing PPE so they can support the testing in those locations.”

The county had been relying on TDEM for mass testing until those ended earlier in June.

Under the terms, CommuniCare will provide staff to support testing and storage for equipment.

Hays County will be responsible for providing SARS CoV-2 COVID-19 molecular test kits, IT equipment for testing, personal protective equipment and signs for advertising.

Similar to the County’s testing with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Texas National Guard, you don’t have to be showing symptoms.

But unlike the TDEM partnership tests, you will need an appointment before you go and there may be a limit of 100 tests per day, Villalobos says.

“So it doesn’t slow down the turnaround time, I think that’s important,” he said. “So that we continue to be within that time period where it makes sense that you need to get a result to you so that you can take the appropriate action, personally, for quarantine, or maybe even other other services that you may need.”

The agreement indicates the partnership will last through December 31, unless the county decides to end it sooner.

Villalobos says money will come from CARES funds.

Hours of operation for free COVID-19 testing at CommuniCare Health clinics is expected to be posted online here in the next week.

Villalobos also says the county is hoping to open up its own testing building in San Marcos mid-August and a testing location in Dripping Springs.

Working with Texas State University

Hays County’s largest age group with active cases is still 20-29 year olds.

Villalobos says that’s why they’re also working closely with Texas State University as the fall semester approaches.

Source: Hays County Local Health Department

“Texas State has the capacity to do COVID-19 testing, we’ve had it for quite some time,” said Dr. Emilio Carranco, Texas State University chief medical officer, during a discussion with State Representative Erin Zwiener (D-Hays County) on Thursday.

Carranco said the university has the capacity to test hundreds of students per day.

“We’ve been working with our reference lab to make sure that if we need to ramp up our capacity we could do it in very short order,” he said in the virtual roundtable.

Villalobos says even though the university has a plan, the county is looking to supplement that with even more testing or staffing, as well as communication with students.

“Some of that will still affect us because they’re going to be living in our apartment or renting homes throughout the community in Hays County,” he said.

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