Dallas, Tarrant counties set up to do their own coronavirus testing

Tarrant County is now set up for its own coronavirus testing.

It's equipped for about a dozen tests a day, but hopes, if necessary, to do more in the future.

There are currently six places in Texas that now have a lab that can test for the coronavirus.

Eventually, there will be 10.

Dallas County showed FOX4 its lab, where it will be able to churn out results in a matter of hours.

Previously, results had to be sent off to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and came back in a matter of days.

“We want to know how much we can do. We really want to push the limits and get it done, but we want to do it right and we want to serve the public in a way that's befitting of their health,” said Daniel Serinaldi, with Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Governor Greg Abbott said the Dallas lab should be able to handle around 10 tests a day.

He hopes by the time all 10 labs are up and running statewide, the capacity will be 125 tests a day.

“This new ability to provide testing in the state will shorten the time to get the test results and will help public health take the appropriate steps,” Gov. Abbott said.

While some cities or counties don't have a lab, the state said any samples taken will be sent to the nearest lab for testing.

In Tarrant County, all Fort Worth ISD schools and buses will undergo deep cleaning during spring break next week.

Now that Tarrant County has the testing kits, it now has the ability to turn around results within 24 hours.

No cases of coronavirus have been reported in North Texas, but the public health department officials said they expect to see it any day now.

“It’s most likely going to show up. In fact, it might already be here we just don’t know it,” said Clint Bond, with Fort Worth ISD.

With new cases of coronavirus reported daily, Fort Worth ISD is taking immediate steps to protect students.

“We have spring break next week. We’re going to take that opportunity to do some deep cleaning in all of our schools and all of our buses,” Bond added.

Starting next week, cleaning crews will be on school campuses every day.

“If anything should happen, we know probably where it didn’t start,” Bond said.

The district is also preparing for the potential for school closures.

It plans to follow Tarrant County Public Health’s advice for the best way to move forward if there's an outbreak.

“They’ll ask us, probably, questions about functionality. Do you have enough teachers? Do you have enough staff to keep a school operating?” Bond explained.

Tarrant County is also prepared to test for the virus without first sending samples to the CDC.

“Typically, within the same day or next day is our result turnaround,” said Vinny Taneja, with Tarrant County Public Health.

It can do up to 15 tests a day right now, with hopes to do more tests soon.

“We do feel that we are prepared as possible for what we believe could happen,” said Mike Drivdahl, with the Fort Worth Fire Department.

Meanwhile, the city is double checking supplies and stocking up.

“Making sure that our first responders have the proper equipment that they need and the training that they need to keep themselves protected as well," Drivdahl added.

The health department said the majority of COVID-19 cases will likely be mild, but it can be worse for certain people.

“20 percent or so of individuals are starting to show some serious impact from the disease, as you saw from China and many other countries,” Taneia said.

So the advice right now is to stay informed and be prepared.

“There is no reason to panic,” Taneia added.

Health officials advise using the same preventative measures you would use against the flu.

Washing hands, covering your cough, and not shaking hands.

Fort Worth ISD is urging parents to check the district's website for updates concerning coronavirus preparations.