RIO GRANDE CITY — Starting Sunday, Starr County will officially be the only location south of San Antonio to have a drive-thru for COVID-19 testing.
On Saturday afternoon, Starr County Judge Eloy Vela, local health authority Dr. Jose Vasquez, President of Starr County Industrial Foundation Rose Benavidez, SCIF Chairman Sam Vale and other officials met outside South Texas College’s Starr County campus’ North end parking lot where the first drive-thru will be held.
Benavidez explained how they were able to secure the site with STC, while Vale is credited for getting the facility going as he is also sponsoring the first month of the testing center.
“It really took a village,” Vela said. “I’m very proud of Starr County that everyone came together.”
While the testing center is located in Starr County, anyone can be tested at the center as long as they meet the requirements.
“We first want to take care of our own,” Vasquez said. “But in a crisis, like the one that we have in our hands, we cannot deny services to anybody.”
Vasquez laid out the process of how individuals can qualify to be tested at the drive-thru.
First, individuals must call the COVID-19 hotlines, provided by their officials, to indicate if they are potentially a positive case for the coronavirus.
If so, individuals then must be screened by their doctors. If their doctor determines that they might be a case for COVID-19, then the doctor will provide a prescription.
Vasquez added that individuals who do not have insurance can visit clinics.
Once individuals have a prescription, then they qualify to be tested at the drive-thru so long as they provide the prescription, a form of identification and insurance proof, if any.
Any individual without insurance will still be tested at the drive-thru at no cost; individuals with insurance will be covered.
However, individuals that qualify to go to the drive-thru must arrive with their windows up. They will be met with security; they must not roll down the window or leave their vehicle under any circumstances.
Instead, they will show their prescription through the window, be guided by the personnel to the tent, and be met by lab technicians in their safety gear and equipment.
While the test itself wasn’t described, Vasquez mentioned that it will be conducted while the individual is inside their vehicle.
Results take around 24 hours.
Vasquez declared they aren’t worried of not having enough testing for individuals as the testing center will have 600 tests.
The drive-thru testing center’s official hours are noon to 6 p.m., but if the demand increases, then officials will increase the hours.
“I need the community to know that in the days to come cases, positive cases, are going to start showing up in our statistics. I need people to not fall in panic, “Vasquez urged. “It doesn’t mean that there are no cases in our community. It’s just that we haven’t been able to test enough to be able to identify those cases.
Cases are going to come back positive. We need to use that as a positive tool to try to prevent for the spread of the disease, so please do not panic when the results start coming out in the future.”