DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With Covid-19 cases rising again in Texas, schools have the ability to test their students and faculty quickly and free of charge.

The school districts and private schools opting in, receive the Abbott Lab BinaxNOW tests provided by the Trump administration and PPE from the state.

The state also provides training on how to use the tests.

The Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Nim Kidd said Thursday the tests deliver results in 15 minutes. “We’re quickly able to differentiate the sick from the not sick or the positive from the not positive. And that’s how we slow the spread.”

His agency has sent 138,840 rapid test kits to 70 schools in the North Central Texas area, including Dallas and Fort Worth ISD’s.

Statewide, 339 school systems have received 717,625 of the rapid tests kits.

Chief Kidd said, “I have at least that many in our warehouse right now closer to a million that I can continue to distribute. I would like to see more personally opt in.”

More school systems he said are in the process of opting-in.

But Kidd said just because school systems aren’t in the program, doesn’t mean they don’t have a similar program of their own.

The Division of Emergency Management is also preparing to distribute two antibody drugs for Covid-19 patients and a vaccine when it’s available.

Chief Kidd said, “There are so many vaccines that are out there under trial, and they have different conditions and criteria, some have to be kept at like minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit, some just have to be cold. Some can stay at some sort of room temperature. We don’t know which ones are going to come first, or which ones will come in any particular sequence.”

That’s why he said planning is so important: so the state has the right equipment in the right places to accept the particular vaccine.

“We’ve done an exercise on this, we’ve worked with a couple of hospitals, we’ve actually shipped around some fake vials of medicines to work through the process, because we want to run this to ground and make sure that our systems do work.”

Chief Kidd said the exercise went smoothly, but that there’s always room for improvement.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are 24,357 active cases of the virus in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties, and 1,986 Covid-19 patients who are hospitalized in the North Texas region.

Kidd said while the federal, state, and local governments are working on a lot of different fronts, it ultimately comes down to the individual person to do what he or she can to prevent infecting others.

He said the disease has spread because people who don’t have symptoms don’t realize they have it.

With Thanksgiving two weeks away, he recommended that before people travel for the holiday, they get tested for the virus.

“I know with the holidays coming up, people are going to want to get together. I want to get together with my family, I’m no different than anybody else. And we really have to be careful about being around people that we haven’t been around in a while. Before you travel and before you go see your loved ones and one you may potentially risk if you are concerned at all about having it or carrying it. Why not get a test?”

He said there is plenty of testing available across Texas.

While traveling, he said people should continue wearing masks, socially distance as much as possible, and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer often.”

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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