Dallas County closing 5 COVID-19 testing sites
DALLAS - With demand and cases dropping, Dallas County has shut down its free COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.
For now, it's a wait and see game when it comes to the newest sub variant, and how health officials and hospitals will react.
It’s a drastic change from where we were in early January, during the omicron surge, when people waited in line all day to try and get a COVID-19 test.
Now, many households have possession of free, at-home COVID-19 tests and don't need to find a site to get tested.
As new COVID-19 cases continue to decline in North Texas, Dallas County Health and Human Services has opted to close five of its testing and vaccination sites Thursday afternoon.
That includes the sites at Fair Park and the Crawford Aquatic Center.
Dallas College's Mountain View, North Lake, and Richland campuses are also ending testing after Thursday.
Demand is dwindling. There was no one at the Dallas College North Lake site when FOX 4 crews were there Thursday, and just two cars were in line at the Mountain View location.
RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine second booster: Who needs one and when?
"That does not mean that we don't still encourage folks to get tested if they're symptomatic and/or get vaccinated," Dr. Mark Casanova said.
Dr. Casanova is a member of the Texas Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force.
He's not surprised by the move to shut down government-run facilities, since operation is costly.
Fort Worth made a similar decision last week.
"I think still, by the strictest of definitions, we are, we remain in pandemic mode, not quite endemic, but it appears to be heading that way," Dr. Casanova said.
Still, he cautions against complacency.
The omicron sub-variant BA.2, while less severe, is more contagious and causes a spike in cases in some countries.
"COVID-19 has shown us this, its ability to change, morph become more problematic in many ways," he said.
Dr. Catherine Troisi is an infectious disease epidemiologist with UT Health School of Public Health in Houston.
"You know, this virus has surprised us," she said.
She's worried about municipalities being able to pivot should Texas see an increased need in the coming weeks or months.
"Once these sites are closed, it's going to be hard to ramp them up quickly, should we see a surge," Dr. Troisi added.
Dr. Troisi and Dr. Casanova both agree that the more people that get vaccinated, the less likely a new variant is able to develop and spread quickly.
But they said COVID-19 is here to stay.
"The question is, at what levels, and what's going to happen in terms of variants," Dr. Troisi said.
"So while it's free, there's probably no better time than the present to get out there and start that vaccination series and or get boosted," Dr. Casanova added.
Dr. Casanova said it’s also important that Texas be willing to pivot again when it comes to mask wearing.
While not being recommended now, he said that could change should we see another surge in COVID-19 cases.
RELATED: Biden seeks more COVID-19 funds from Congress, receives 2nd booster
Wednesday, President Joe Biden received his second booster shot.
It’s now recommended for those 50 and up, or those with compromised immune systems.
He used the photo op to push for more COVID-related funding.
Biden said, without it, the country will not be prepared for another wave of the virus.
Republicans said there has already been too much spending.
The White House has rolled out a new website: covid.gov.
It aims to be a "one-stop shop" with information on the pandemic about vaccines, testing, treatment, and masking information.