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COVID test site dealing with huge volume

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From staff reports

COVID-19 testing appears to be in demand in Caldwell County amid a surge of cases believed to be largely due to the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the disease.

The Caldwell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and The Texas Military Forces last week resumed its COVID-19 Test and Vaccine Site at the Scott Annex that will run through Feb. 10. The site has been a popular destination since it opened last Monday.

Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden on Tuesday said that over the past week, between 300-500 people per day had visited the site, with a significant number of visitors coming from out of the county to take advantage of the free testing.

The Facebook page for the Caldwell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management indicated on its page on Tuesday that a shortage of test kits has led it to limit its daily tests to 200 starting Wednesday, Jan. 19.

The outdoor test site will be closed Thursday and Friday this week due to a cold front in the forecast that meteorologists said could bring with it a chance of wintry precipitation.

“The tests used for this application will only advise negative or positive and no documentation will be provided as the military has run out of the Binax test kits,” the post read. “If you are needing documentation for work or school, please visit the Curative test site or your local physician.”

Mask wearing at the Scott Annex site is mandatory. First, second and booster doses will be administered to those who wish to get vaccinated. 

Vaccines will be administered to people ages 12 and older. Children under the age of 18 must bring a parent or legal guardian. Patients are asked to bring ID for registration and their COVID-19 vaccine cards if they have one.

The Curative test site is in the Adams Gym at 419 Bois D’Arc next to the Lockhart ISD central office. Tests there are PCR tests conducted by appointment only. Results are typically returned within 1-2 days. You can book a slot at curative.com.

Free at-home test kits are now available through the federal government, which launched covidtests.gov on Tuesday, a day ahead of its planned launch.

Through the website, any home in the United States is eligible to order up to four free at-home COVID-19 tests at a time. Orders usually ship through the United States Postal Service in 7-12 calendar days, according to the website.

On Tuesday, the site was in its beta phase, meaning it was operating at limited capacity ahead of its federal launch, which a White House official said was standard practice to address troubleshooting and ensure a smooth official launch.

The website was expected to fully launch mid-day Wednesday.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration went through a similar process for vaccines.gov and said any orders placed during the Beta phase would be completed.

In the week that has passed since the last Lockhart Post-Register press deadline, the Texas Department of State Health Services is reporting an additional 1,119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Caldwell County, bringing the total for the area to 9,988 cases. Total deaths remain at 159 since case numbers began being recorded in March 2020.

The spike in confirmed cases could partially be attributed to the DSHS updating statewide and county case counts to include final 2020 data submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That led to an increase of 52,465 confirmed cases and a decrease of 26,229 probable cases.
Effective last week, the DSHS has improved its reporting to see caseload per year. According to its dashboard, there have been 1,980 confirmed cases this year and 1 fatality.

Per DSHS reports, hospitals in Region O — which includes Travis, Hays and Caldwell Counties — are at 86.3% occupancy with 23 adult ICU beds and nine pediatric beds open. 

The transmission rate in Caldwell County is considered high, with the CDC reporting 43.04% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests. There have been 17 people from the area admitted to the hospital in the past week, according to the CDC.

At Lockhart ISD, there are currently 120 active confirmed cases of COVID-19. Eighty-seven of the cases are students.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Lockhart City Council, Mayor Lew White responded to business owners in the community who’ve asked him to reinstate a mask mandate in the city.

Acknowledging that city government doesn’t have the authority to override Governor Greg Abbott, who disallowed any local governments from reinstating such a mandate, White said Council could potentially discuss it at the next regular meeting depending on the circumstances.

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