DeSoto now COVID-19 testing every city employee

DeSoto is the first municipality in North Texas to test every city employee for COVID-19.

The city of DeSoto is testing 350 employees weekly, first responders daily and others twice a week. Officials say the only way to beat COVID-19 is to know who has COVID-19.

DeSoto Fire Captain Reid Bentley takes a rapid test before every shift, like every other policeman and firefighter in the city.

"And then I can guarantee two things -- that my workforce is negative and then when we go out in to the public, just as importantly, maybe even more importantly, that we're not taking COVID-19 into someone's home," said DeSoto Fire Chief Jerry Duffield.

He got the idea from Austin's fire chief and requested the antigen tests from the state. He got thousands of them at no cost.

"Ten percent of our people have been asymptotic or mildly symptomatic and we're catching them with the antigen testing. Therefore, they're not bringing it into the station and having the group spread," Duffield said.

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Other city employees get tested Mondays and Wednesdays.

"That allows us to make sure that we're catching people after they return from the weekends and make sure that they're ready to go for the week. Then we test them again on Wednesday just to make sure that everything is still going well with them," said Brandon Wright, DeSoto City Manager.

The testing plan started when workers returned from Labor Day.

"So far really we've had a great response to this," Wright said.

The city created a video so employees would know how to take the test and why it’s important.

"We wanted to make sure that they understood this was really about their safety, their co-workers, the public and then also making sure that we could deliver our frontline services to the community," Wright said.

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