Central Texas health leaders say they aren’t worried about COVID-19 testing capabilities at this time but will have to adapt to the demand.
WACO, Texas — COVID-19 tests are in high demand as the number of new cases hits an all time high, but is there enough supply?
Across the country, people are waiting in lines for hours, paying lots of money to get tested or not having luck finding any tests.
Here in Central Texas people are having to wait hours to get tested at some places.
The drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Richland Mall in Waco had a constant, long line Wednesday. A staff member told 6 News they heard some had been waiting for 5 hours to get tested.
Staff members also had to turn vehicles away towards the end of operating hours because there were so many cars waiting to be tested and the site is scheduled to be open until 6 p.m. People were getting tested way past 6:15 p.m.
Stephanie Alvey, assistant director of the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District says the need for testing really amped up in the last two days.
She says the last five to six weeks, the county was seeing around 400 tests conducted on average each day, but starting last week it slowly climbed and McLennan County had 1,100 tests reported Tuesday, Dec. 28.
Alvey wouldn’t specifically say if the county was low on COVID-19 tests but she doesn’t think that the quantity of tests kits is why it’s hard to get a test locally.
“I would say that if you want to get a test right now, it is more difficult to get one and it’s mostly testing appointments,” she explained. “It’s not necessarily the test kits or the other lab capacity. I think they have the capacity. It’s just the number of staff they have at the testing site, but the number of people they can process at a time.”
Alvey told 6 News the goal is to bring in another testing site like they have done with other surge periods and they’re looking at a couple other avenues, too.
“We do know that testing is is increasingly difficult to come by unfortunately,” Alvey added. “We are looking at trying to figure out what solutions we can put together to assist with that.”
“First of all, be patient,” Executive Director of the Milam County Health Department Robert Kirkpatrick said. “We understand that there’s a lot of people wanting to get tested right now.”
The Milam County Health Department has been doing and will continue to do at least two testing clinics a week on Mondays and Thursdays. On Monday they’re running tests in Rockdale and Thursdays the health department is in Cameron.
Kirkpatrick says he feels good about the testing capability but knows it might have to change to more than just two days.
“If we see a need and we start running over about 150 tests a day, on the Mondays and Thursdays, we will expand that and change our dates,” he explained.
Kirkpatrick says the county is working with multiple vendors to ensure that the county has enough testing supplies on hand to continue the current scheduled testing the county offers.
Bell County health leaders tell 6 News the county does not have any shortage of COVID-19 tests yet.
Needing help finding a COVID-19 test? We have you covered. Click here to be directed to testing sites in Central Texas.