FORT WORTH, Texas - People in Tarrant County now have more opportunities to get tested for the coronavirus. Two free drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites have opened in Arlington and Fort Worth.
The site near the Parks Mall in Arlington is run by the Arlington Fire Department. It will start off each day with 100 tests available by appointment only.
Residents must pre-register with the city by phone or through the city's coronavirus website. Those who meet the criteria which include having symptoms of the virus will be given an appointment for the nasal swab test.
The other free drive-thru site is in Fort Worth at the Walgreens on Camp Bowie Road. People must complete an online assessment to see if they qualify.
Fort Worth police officers were able to get tested at the location Thursday ahead of the public.
“Not too intrusive, you know, you have to swab yourself, but they give you instructions on how to do it and what to do so it’s relatively painless,” FWPD Assistant Chief Charlie Ramirez said.
Good Day FOX 4 spoke with the medical director for the city of Arlington about what people can expect moving forward.
"I think we are going to be able to see ebbs and flows as we have the virus that increases in a certain area, certain hotspot. We can be able to identify that, trace those contacts, isolate those people. And that's what our goal is here to be able to identify those hotspots and deal with those hotspots and get the rest of the community going," Dr. Cynthia Simmons said.
There are about two dozen other testing sites in Tarrant County but none are funded by the federal government like the two testing sites at the American Airlines Center and Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas. That means most sites require an order from a doctor, and people must exhibit symptoms.
“In all of those situations, there are symptoms present that make that individual eligible for the test,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley explained.
“Have you had fever? Do you feel sick? Have you traveled to certain areas? Have you knowingly been exposed? It’s the same at all sites,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said.
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On Thursday, Tarrant County reported 129 new COVID-19 cases, its highest daily increase so far, and the highest one-day increase for any county in North Texas.
Judge Whitley partially blamed a reporting delay, due to a slowdown of new software at Texas Department of Health Services.
“As well as we had some spikes in our long-term facilities. One in the Advent Health Care and I believe the other one was in the federal prison at Carswell,” Whitley said.
Tarrant County’s stay-at-home order expires April 30, when the statewide order expires. Judge Whitley may make extensions based on new guidelines to be released by the governor next week.
He hopes the new expected guidelines don't call for places like restaurants and bars to open ahead of Cinco De Mayo.
“If anything, I would hope that we would wait until after that weekend to begin lessening the restrictions,” Whitley said.