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Lamesa Hosts COVID-19 Testing Site Thursday

The Mobile Testing Teams will be focusing both on rural areas that have not had access to testing and identified ‘Hot-Spots’ where additional testing capability is needed to augment what is currently in place.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
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Lamesa will be the site this coming Thursday of a COVID-19 Mobile Test Collection program coordinated by various state agencies in cooperation with local entities.

The one-day event outside Medical Arts Hospital will allow anyone in Dawson County and the surrounding area who suspects they have the virus – and has at least one symptom – to be tested for free by appointment and have the results back in 48 hours.

The testing will be handled by one of 25 Texas State Guard teams which Governor Greg Abbott announced this past Monday would be deployed across the state to provide citizens with greater access to medical testing.

“The purpose of this initiative is to quickly increase the availability of COVID-19 testing to all areas of the State of Texas,” according to an announcement from the state. “The Mobile Testing Teams will be focusing on both rural areas that have not had access to testing and identified ‘Hot-Spots’ where additional testing capability is needed to augment what is currently in place.”

Lamesa City Manager Sean Overeynder said the event will allow local residents a quick, no-cost opportunity to be tested for the virus.

“A lot of folks can’t afford the test or they just can’t go take the test,” Overeynder said Friday.

Instead of having to exhibit several symptoms, as has been required to qualify for testing at most locations in West Texas, anyone will qualify for Thursday’s event if they have at least one of the following symptoms:

-Fever and/or chills,

-Cough (dry or productive),

-Fatigue,

-Body aches/muscle or joint pain,

-Shortness of breath,

-Sore throat,

-Headaches,

-Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea,

-Nasal congestion, and

-Loss of taste and/or smell.

Anyone wanting testing should register in advance either by calling 512-883-2400 or going online at txcovid.org.

Registration for the Lamesa testing event began at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Each person who registers will be given a four-digit personal identification number (PIN) and an appointment time for the test.

They will need to provide the PIN when they pull into the parking lot at the hospital and are greeted by members of the Texas State Guard.

Tentative plans call for everyone arriving for testing to enter off of Bryan Ave. into the north driveway to the hospital and exit back onto Bryan Ave. through the south driveway.

Testing will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday under the canopy at the main, east entrance of the hospital.

“You won’t even have to get out of your car,” said Larry Duyck, Lamesa Fire Chief and Dawson County Emergency Management Coordinator.

The actual testing is expected to take about 10 minutes, although there may be some wait time if traffic backs up at the site.

Ducyk said those arriving without an appointment and PIN may still be able to be tested but they will be directed to a registration area before being tested.

The test samples will be taken by state officials to Lubbock and then flown by the Texas Department of Public Safety to a lab in Dallas.

Those tested should be notified of the results in about 48 hours, either by text or email based on the information they provide at registration.

Results also will be provided to the health department serving the county where the person lives.

With the event being conducted by the Texas State Guard, Overeynder said people should not be alarmed when they see a number of military-style vehicles at the hospital.

A news release from the governor’s office said the testing teams will have 11 medical professionals and support staff, as well as 34 Texas State Guard soldiers.

Local police and sheriff’s officers as well as Medical Arts Hospital EMS also will be on hand to assist as needed.

“To dispel any panic, uprising or hysteria, be aware that the Texas State Guard as well as our local law enforcement will be at the hospital on Thursday as part of this effort to make sure we are keeping our people safe,” Overeynder said.

He said people became alarmed, and false rumors spread quickly, when a similar testing event was held in Dumas this past week. Minimum

Some 700 tests were conducted at that event in Dumas.

If a similar number of tests are handled here, authorities said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Dawson County and surrounding areas is almost certain to jump sharply.

Both Overeynder and Duyck said they welcome the testing but are not aware of how Lamesa was selected as a test site.

“We were selected as the regional host,” Duyck said.