The deployment of Richardson-based volunteers comes as Gov. Greg Abbott announced in a May 11 release that 100% of Texas’ nursing home residents and staff members would be tested for coronavirus.
“The State of Texas is working to rapidly expand our testing capacity—especially among vulnerable populations in Texas nursing homes,” Gov. Abbott said in the release.
Three members of the department who volunteered to be a part of the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force will administer the tests, according to Richardson Fire Department Chief Curtis Poovey.
The volunteers began training May 21 and are expected to be deployed over two weeks, though testing in Richardson should be complete by Saturday, May 23, Poovey said. The remainder of the time will be spent testing residents at facilities in other cities.
The task force is trained on how to properly conduct tests, how to use state-mandated personal protective equipment, and how to report testing to the state, Poovey said.
Task force members are tested prior to entering the senior living facilities as well as when their team is demobilized, Poovey said. If a volunteer shows symptoms, he or she will be tested again.
Members of the Richardson department were eager to help, Poovey said.
“I had multiple fire personnel volunteer to [join the task force],” he said.
Residents who have been tested for the virus since April 15 do not have to be tested again, according to Poovey. Only one facility in Richardson is scheduled to be tested by the task force because all others have tested their residents within the mandated time frame, he said.
“Many of the facilities in Richardson have already been tested, and they just have to supply us with the documentation and they're done,” Poovey said.