FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – An increased demand for COVID-19 testing could continue for the next two to three weeks, the Tarrant County Public Health director told county commissioners Tuesday, Jan 4.
There was less alarm though in a report on the rising numbers of positive cases, with Vinny Taneja saying the message for people now is not to let the surge scare them.
Demand for testing has gone from less than a dozen requests a day before the holidays, to hundreds or even up to 1,000 in large locations.
Taneja assured commissioners, however, who referenced receiving criticism over long lines and availability, that there is plenty of capacity in the county for testing.
At testing sites in Fort Worth, Arlington and Bedford Tuesday, short lines of cars were steady, but rarely long.
Websites showed same day appointments available and drive up testing without an appointment was also an option.
Taneja stressed that if people are willing to look around at as many as 100 testing locations listed on county and state websites, tests can be found.
He also said with cases trending up, the county didn’t need to count every single case, or receive reports back from home tests.
Some healthy people who may be waiting in lines and making appointments, may not need to be there either, he said.
“I have always discouraged what I call ‘freak out testing’,” Taneja said. “I will tell you there’s a lot of folks out there that call us, the same day, ‘Oh so and so tested positive, where can I get a test?’.”
People should wait until they have symptoms, he said, or at least five days after a known exposure before getting a test.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley called it unfortunate that some people didn’t bother to do more research into testing availability in the county before criticizing efforts.
He applauded employees at test sites who Taneja said in some cases had been yelled at, cursed or reportedly spit on in one instance by people frustrated over long waits.
Though the new variant has been contagious, Taneja said with vaccine availability, mask wearing and avoidance all still options, people didn’t need to be afraid of the virus.
Whitley also continued to emphasize vaccinations as the way out of the pandemic, even though they haven’t prevented this latest surge in cases.
“None of us can predict or understand this virus,” he said. “And why someone might get it and why someone else doesn’t.”