More coronavirus tests administered in Hays County, but less than 2% of results back from Mother’s Day testing

Hays County Commissioner Court members discuss coronavirus testing and contact tracing. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hays County Commissioner Court members discuss coronavirus testing and contact tracing. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)

Hays County Commissioner Court members discuss coronavirus testing and contact tracing. (Joe Warner/Community Impact Newspaper)

As testing increases in Hays County, Commissioners Court members are concerned about the turnaround time for getting results from those tests.

At a meeting May 19, Hays County Director of Countywide Operations Tammy Crumley said results for only two of the nearly 100 tests administered May 10 by the National Guard had been reported back to the county health department, and both of those cases were positive.

The tests were given Mother’s Day in the more rural areas of Hays County, Dripping Springs and Wimberley, where testing options are not as readily available as they are in cities such as San Marcos, Buda and Kyle.

“Our understanding is the volume of tests they are running through [the state] lab has been ... overloaded,” Crumley told the Commissioners Court. “We don’t even have a list of individuals who were tested to reach back out to them.”

Commissioner Lon Shell said he was concerned if those tested were not in self-quarantine.

“It would be nice if the state could let us know when to expect those and have the ability to contact those individuals,” Shell said.

County Judge Ruben Becerra said some fire professionals in the county received training and began testing nursing facilities May 18. The first of six in Hays County, Hill Country Nursing and Rehab in Dripping Springs, had 27 personnel administering tests May 18 to residents and personnel. Results are pending.

The challenge for nursing home testing, according to Commissioner Walt Smith, is residents are tested in their rooms, and those providing testing are changing the Tyvek suits and personal protective equipment often to ensure safety and eliminate the chance of spreading the coronavirus.

Hays County has three senior facilities in San Marcos, Hill Country in Dripping Springs, one in Kyle and one in Buda. Other long-term care centers and assisted-living facilities are also part of the rotation to be tested.

“I can’t stress how appreciative I am to our first responders who are doing this,” Smith said.

The other issue for testing is contact tracing. Hays County employees are being trained this week and will go live on the state system May 22.

Crumley, who will undergo the three- to four-hour training, said the process is thorough, as employees will do initial intakes of positive cases of residents, call all known contacts of the resident who tested positive and then call the contacts of the contacts. County employees will then reach out to those affected two weeks after the mandated isolation period to update the status.

Information for any patients outside Hays County will be forwarded to the proper jurisdiction for tracing and follow-up.
By Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.


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