State Rep. Zwiener discusses COVID-19 testing shortcomings in Hays County

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Rebecca Harrell

A line of people in their vehicles waiting to get tested for COVID-19 on Sunday, June 14, 2020, outside of Bonham Pre-K school.

Daniella Carrera, News Reporter

State Rep. Erin Zwiener held a town hall June 16 to address healthcare policy and COVID-19’s effects on state and local healthcare, saying Hays County has not done a good job telling people where they can get tested.

San Marcos hosted COVID-19 testing sites June 14, where 1% of the city’s population came out to get tested, according to Zwiener. Zwiener said Hays County needs a permanent free testing location in San Marcos—one that is easily accessible and does not require an appointment.

“Folks in your community who have been exposed to COVID-19 have probably not gotten tested because we have not done a good enough job getting the message out about how to get tested and how to do it, particularly for free,” Zwiener said.

Anne Dunkelberg, program director of Every Texan, said the qualification criteria for COVID-19 testing vary between counties, leading to confusion between who can get tested.

According to Dunkelberg, some individuals stay away from testing because they may not qualify for a free test, resulting in a charge they cannot afford. Individuals may also be afraid of being sent home for two weeks without pay. And others may fear immigration consequences.

“We have federal language and guidance that clearly says that information about testing is going to be private; it’s not going to be released or ever used for immigration enforcement,” Dunkelberg said.

Texas is seeing an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations, according to State Rep. Donna Howard. Howard said this is more than likely an effect of reopening the economy and people going out during Memorial Day weekend.

“[The case and hospitalization increase] gives us a warning sign that [COVID-19] could exponentially get out of control and have a surge on the hospitals that would not just impact the [patients] but impact everybody else who needs hospitalization,” Howard said.

Dunkelberg said populations who are least likely to have health insurance and more likely to postpone testing and treatment have a higher risk of being infected.

The sites listed below will have access to drive-up and walk-up testing lanes at each location:

  • Simon Middle School, 3839 East FM 150, Kyle – 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 17
  • Uhland Elementary, 2331 High Road, Uhland – 4-8 p.m. Thursday, June 18
  • McCormick Middle School, 5700 Dacy Lane, Buda – 4-8 p.m. Friday, June 19
  • Bowie Elementary, 4020 Monterrey Oak, San Marcos – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 20 (Additional Location details may be forthcoming)

The University Star will continue to provide COVID-19 updates as any additional information is released.

Individuals concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or the Hays County Local Health Department at 512.393.5520. For additional information about COVID-19, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services or the Centers for Disease Control website.

The University Star’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here.


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