DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County wants to significantly ramp up public testing, as it looks at long-term strategies to contain the novel coronavirus.
Analysis by the Houston Chronicle found Texas ranks next to last among the 50 states in tests done per capita.
“Testing is what we desperately need right now,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins at a press conference Tuesday.
Two federally funded drive-through sites remain capped at performing 250 tests each a day. Jenkins says, it takes about a week for those patients to get their results.
A smaller site, run by county-owned Parkland Hospital for its patients and front line responders, though, offers promise. Running just about 120 tests daily, it’s capable of doing much more.
“We have the people-power and machines to do 1600 a day,” said Jenkins. And the judge says that site is able to return results in just one day.
Standing in the way of expanding testing there is a lack of proper supplies. “We’re working with the state to get those reagents and kits,” said Jenkins.
If the county is able to get enough tests, UT Southwestern Medical Center could start testing 1400 more people each day.
The county would also like additional testing machines, which Jenkins says UT Southwestern could turn into a “homegrown super test site” capable of quickly turning around thousands of tests a day.
Jenkins said the government doesn’t have to worry about the cost. “We’ll pay for it… if the feds will just send them to us,” he said.
But with local governments around the country sharing the same needs, Dallas county is hoping it finds what it needs.