DALLAS - Dallas and Tarrant counties are ramping up testing capacity with new test sites opening Monday and Tuesday.
Organizers say faster turnaround times for test results will be a critical part of fighting the spread of the virus.
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Both Dallas and Tarrant counties are bringing the sites online with the expectation that they’ll be able to do hundreds of tests a day and get results fairly quickly. That makes a big difference when trying to address hotspots.
There was bumper to bumper traffic at Mountain View College in Southwest Dallas while people waited to be one of the first in line for a coronavirus test on Monday.
Zip code 75211 is predominately Latino with more than 1,900 cases, the most in the county. Those getting tested do not have to prove they live in Dallas county or show symptoms.
“This area of the city of Dallas is a hot spot. It’s one of the reasons that we chose this spot. The fact that they are lined up tells us that they need testing over here,” said Cassandra Wallace with the Dallas Office of Emergency Management. “There was some concerns elsewhere that the tests were taking too long, or the test results were taking too long to come back. We think that we have found actually a remedy for that. This test site and the University of Dallas test site are the same contractor. And again, 2-4 days. Most likely 2.”
A spokesperson for Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ office says the Ellis Davis Field House drive-thru test site in South Dallas was taking 7-10 days to turnaround results when federally operated. Since Parkland took over last week results have been coming back in less than 48 hours.
Over in Tarrant County, preps for a pilot program started Tuesday at J.P. Elder Middle School in Northwest Fort Worth.
Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis says the saliva test they’re using has a low 1-2 percent false positive rate, requires less PPE to administer and the expected turnaround time for results is just 36 hours. He says that’s key. Lagging data meant they weren’t getting an accurate picture of the problem.
“We are going to make sure that starting off we have it right, Davis said. “We are expecting 300 a day to start with the exception we’ll be able to ramp that up as we get a good flow of how the process works, and we make some changes based on our experience here.”
People do not have to have symptoms to get tested at the J.P. Elder Middle School site in Fort Worth, but people are asked to go online and make an appointment in advance. But if someone shows up without one, they won’t get turned away.
Dallas County says it doesn’t have any plans for saliva testing sites but is looking into it.