No more drive-thru tests; officials say 3 had been hospitalized for COVID-19

The county’s drive-thru testing site that was set up to help with the coronavirus pandemic in March is coming to an end, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said.

Cooke County’s drive-thru coronavirus testing site is coming to an end, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley announced Monday, May 18.

The news came following a brief closed-door meeting with members of the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court inside the Cooke County Courthouse in downtown Gainesville.

Brinkley said testing at the drive-thru site on North Texas Medical Center property would conclude Friday, May 22.

“A big part of that is the number of tests we are doing on a weekly basis has steadily declined,” Brinkley told members of the court.

Testing will continue to be provided in Cooke County, he said, while encouraging those without health insurance to reach out to medical providers for assistance on how they could be tested as well.

“Most all local providers and hospitals can provide the test if they so choose,” Cathy Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the Cooke County COVID-19 Joint Information Center, said Monday afternoon.

She added that things could “change daily depending on each provider’s inventory of tests, preference for testing, etc.”

Lloyd said Monday that testing began at the drive-thru location March 24. Testing, she said, has been by appointment only mostly between 9 and 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The large white surge tent next to the drive-thru site will remain up for the time being, according to Cooke County Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Fletcher.

As of noon Monday, there were two active cases of the coronavirus in Cooke County, information from the JIC shows. Eleven county residents have recovered from the coronavirus and there have been no fatalities recorded among Cooke County residents, the JIC reported.

Last week, the Register inquired about Cooke County cases requiring hospitalization via email. At the time, JIC spokeswoman Kristi Rigsby said NTMC, 1900 Hospital Blvd., had had no active cases. The Register followed up with another email and asked if her reply included any of the numbers the JIC posted “meaning no Cooke County cases have been hospitalized.” Rigsby replied, “that’s correct.”

Following a string of communication with county officials Monday, the Register learned there hadn’t been any hospitalizations related to the coronavirus at medical facilities in the county. However, three of the county’s positive cases “have required hospitalization at some point, that we are aware of,” Brinkley said Monday.

“All hospitalization took place outside Cooke County,” Brinkley said.

He also said Monday afternoon that he wasn’t sure if anyone with an active case was hospitalized.

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

According to the JIC, 443 county residents have been tested for the virus. Of those, 428 are negative and two are pending results. It takes 48 hours for test results to come back after specimens are sent, health officials said.

County statistics include residents of Cooke County only. Two health care workers who are employed in Cooke County but don’t reside here had tested positive earlier for the coronavirus, the Register previously reported. Results from Cooke County residents tested in other counties aren’t reported to Cooke County unless a positive result comes back.

As of press time Monday, there were 1,504,244 reported cases of the coronavirus nationwide and 90,193 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. In Texas, there were 48,972 reported cases and 1,349 deaths.

Follow the Gainesville Daily Register online for updates as the situation surrounding the coronavirus is developing.

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