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COVID-19 testing at Brazos County Expo draws high demand

COVID-19 testing at Brazos County Expo draws high demand

Only $5 for 5 months

Mobile COVID-19 testing provided by the state at the Brazos County Expo was filled Tuesday, with 300 people making appointments to receive the screening.

The 300 appointments slated for today’s testing are also full, according to the Brazos County Health District. Results are expected to be shared within about a week.

Brazos County Health District health promotion manager Sara Mendez said with past testing operations at the Expo, people didn’t have to make an appointment, but circumstances have changed.

“Because there was such an overwhelming response the first thing Tuesday morning, they had to [change] to an appointment-only [system] and fill up spots,” Mendez said. “They have had to turn everyone else away.”

Those tested this week have been, and are being, screened for symptoms of coronavirus infection, Mendez said, but symptoms are not required to receive testing. The mobile site has been accepting adults and children over 5, both Brazos County residents and residents of counties outside of the Bryan-College Station area. Sample collection at the mobile site is now performed with cheek swabs, not nasal swabs.

Mendez said that, to the best of her understanding, those who test negative for coronavirus after submitting a sample at the Expo should receive confirmation of their negative status, just as those who test positive will.

“For results coming back, it kind of varies,” she said. “It depends on what’s going on around the state, and whether the state lab is used. They’re telling folks tested this week that it could be around seven days [for results].”

Those tested at the Expo who do not live locally, Mendez said, will be contacted by their local or regional health district about their diagnosis.

“If you are a Brazos County resident, we get positive results here at health district, and we will follow up with you, asking if you have symptoms,” she said. “If so, we’ll ask when they started, and find out who your close contacts were. We’ll give you an education about staying at home in isolation, to do what you need to do to prevent furthering the spread.”

Mendez said this limited quantity of state-offered testing may be some of the only free COVID-19 screening available.

“From the public health perspective, everyone should get tested,” Mendez said. “It’s kind of that statewide initiative. ... At first, there were not enough tests [available], and we had to limit tests to those people who were symptomatic. We have the supplies now, but we are overwhelmed and don’t have enough laboratory capacity to run the tests… and that’s a statewide issue.”

Mendez said test results are not shared with a subject’s employer or health insurance provider without consent. She added that anyone who needs testing should be able to report to the mobile site without fear of being confronted about immigration status.

The Brazos County Health District leaders hope to have the state’s mobile testing site return to the county within a few weeks, if possible, Mendez noted.

Brazos County has 2,626 cases of COVID-19, with 22,333 tests performed. Last week in Brazos County, the positivity rate — the percentage of tests that returned a positive result — was 49.3%.

Mobile testing sites are supported by the Texas Military Department, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force, and the Texas Department of State Health Services, according to the Brazos County Emergency Operations Center [CEOC]. For information on the spread of coronavirus and identification of symptoms, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

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