82° San Marcos
The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Hays County working to increase number of testing kits, establishes drive-thru testing locations

patient+entrance
patient entrance

Disclaimer: Beginning April 29, Hays County will now be offering free COVID-19 testing for uninsured, underinsured and indigent residents in collaboration with two Live Oak medical facilities. For more information about how to qualify for a free test, click here.
Hays County is working to create more testing locations for COVID-19 across the county as the number of confirmed cases has reached over 100.
According to the Hays County website, there are 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of April 27, with 77 cases still active. There has been one fatality so far in the county.
Eric Schneider, epidemiologist for the Hays County Local Health Department, said the county itself has zero testing kits and there are no walk-in COVID-19 testing sites at the moment.
“We have partnered with other healthcare providers, urgent cares, standalone ERs, to where they are doing testing but Hays County at the moment is not providing tests to these providers,” Schneider said. “They’re getting their own testing kits from the labs wherever they are sending them off to be processed.”
However, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said he was able to secure 2,000 tests from several companies that manufacture the testing kits for the medical providers who are offering tests.
“I’ve got a commitment with (manufacturers) to reserve 2,000 (testing kits) for the residents of Hays County, and as long as they’re available, they’ll give us preferential treatment, but that won’t last forever,” Becerra said.
Becera said those testing kits did not require the use of taxpayer dollars to be secured—however, the tests are not free. Because of the limited amount of testing kits available, those kits are being reserved for those showing symptoms of the virus. The turnaround rate for results is between 24 hours and five days, depending on the company.
The Texas State Student Health Center is also offering COVID-19 tests to all registered students, including students registered for the previous semester. Faculty and staff will also have access to the kits.
According to Sarah Doss, chief medical officer for the Student Health Center, the university is contracted with Clinical Pathology Labs. CPL provides the university with the kits and tests the samples collected by the health center.
“We don’t just test anyone who walks in, we request that you have to meet criteria,” Doss said. “And the reason for that is because there aren’t enough tests available to test everyone should we wanted it so we have to target you know, where it’s most important to test. So we are testing people who have symptoms primarily or those who are at high-risk.”
Like most of the testing places in Hays County, getting tested for COVID-19 at the Student Health Center is not free of charge. Doss said most insurance companies have been covering the costs. However, for those without medical insurance, the cost of getting tested for COVID-19 is $105 in addition to the $35 visiting charge.
“Our goal always is to work with students to make sure they get the care that they need. So we do have options such as delayed payment if a patient can only be part of it today and pay the rest later,” Doss said. “And we also have programs to reduce the cost for students who have a high financial need.”
Schneider said although the county is not necessarily facing a shortage of testing kits, they are facing a shortage of testing locations as private medical providers are closing their doors to their office to limit the spread of the virus. He also said using hospitals as testing locations would overwhelm them.
“We’re currently working on trying to acquire testing kits from FEMA, or from the Department of State Health Services or any other federal government entity to where we would be able to provide testing kits,” Schneider said. “We provide them to other medical providers in hopes that they would be able to open up drive-through testing and be able to allow more testing capabilities for the public.”
According to Schneider, it has been six weeks since an initial request was sent out by the Hays County Local Health Department to federal and state government entities for more testing kits. He has yet to receive anything.
Less than 1% of Hays County has been tested, Becerra said, which makes it hard for local policymakers to know how deeply the virus has penetrated the county.
“I’m trying to get more people tested so that I can understand how exposed we have been as a county to help shape policy around the infection rate. That’s why I want people tested because we can’t all just sit at home forever,” Becerra said.
The county is also working to expand the inventory of kits and loosening restrictions guidelines to be tested for COVID-19.
“We are working diligently to hopefully, here within a few weeks, be able to expand where we will have a least one drive the testing center in each major city here in Hays County and that way we’ll be able to have more options for the public to get tested,” Scheider said.
An interactive map of all available public testing sites in Texas is available through the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Hays County residents with non-emergency questions about COVID-19 can call the county hotline at 512-393-5525. The call center is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Spanish speakers are available. Questions about the Stay at Home and Curfew Order can be sent to [email protected]
If you are experiencing symptoms or concerned that you have been exposed to the virus, please call your health care professional to determine the next steps. If you are experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1.
The University Star’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here.

Donate to The University Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The University Star