Dallas County to keep Dallas College COVID-19 testing sites open through January

Local health leaders said Tuesday they feel a heightened calm before the storm as omicron starts to spread through the region.

COVID-19 cases are steadily climbing in North Texas, and while hospital resources are fine now, officials worry staffing struggles could become worse next month.

The Dallas County Health Director urged people to get vaccinated or boosted and to get tested before seeing family and friends over the holidays.

Officials acknowledged the need for COVID-19 testing is growing again, and announced changes. Dallas College was set to close testing sites at its Richland and Mountain View campuses on Thursday, but that has been pushed back.

"In anticipation of continued demand they have assured they will offer drive-thru testing through the month of January and reassess," said Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County Health and Human Services.

RELATED: North Texas COVID-19 testing sites seeing increase in demand ahead of holidays

Huang told Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday the county will also soon begin offering COVID-19 testing at its North Lake campus.

"Parkland is also looking at the resources they have to increase testing," Huang said.

The move comes as the latest testing data reviewed by the public health committee shows the COVID-19 positivity rate rising again in Dallas County.

"An increase in the use of ER for COVID19-like symptoms, which is another early indicator of an impending wave," Jenkins said.

The DFW Hospital Council says there are approximately 800 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the North Texas region.

RELATED: Omicron variant detected in 89 countries; WHO says cases rapidly doubling

The public health committee report stated it had not seen an increase in serious COVID-related illness or a profound impact on the healthcare system yet. But it is concerned about staffing. As of December, parkland has 504 bedside nursing positions open.

"There are increased reports of staffing challenges in acute care and long-term care facilities," Jenkins said.

As North Texans prepare to gather with family and friends this holiday season, Huang suggested they get tested beforehand. He suggested at-home test as a convenient option. He said he's been in touch with area pharmacies who are trying to replenish their supply daily.

"Bottom line is if you're not vaccinated, you shouldn't travel," Huang said.

On the state level, Gov. Greg Abbott said he will not bring back mask orders to fight the winter surge expected in Texas.

He told a conservative radio host he is considering calling another special legislative session to ask lawmakers to outlaw vaccine mandates as well.

Currently, the man on vaccine mandates in Texas is an executive order from the governor.

Abbott’s office said instead of requiring vaccines or masks – which are considered by most doctors to be the most effect methods for fighting COVID-19 – Texas will set up infusion centers to treat people after they get sick.


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