DALLAS — In a narrow parking lot along DART railroad tracks and the Stemmons Expressway, hundreds of traffic cones are positioned to lead cars toward a single white tent where people can get tested for the coronavirus without leaving their vehicles.
“You can’t just drive up because you’re curious or you feel that you’re sick,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
This drive-thru testing site, opened from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. is in downtown Dallas at the American Airlines Center located at 2500 Victory Boulevard.
It represents the first wide-scale screening of COVID-19 offered by the government in North Texas.
But Jenkins said anyone getting tested must be at least 65 years old and have a temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher.
First responders, healthcare workers, and DART drivers are also eligible to get tested if they also have a temperature of 99.6 degrees or more.
Dallas County’s facility is also open to anyone in neighboring counties, Jenkins said.
“We’re trying to stop the spread in North Texas. We’re trying to flatten the curve in North Texas,” he added.
Problem is, the labs are backed up and Jenkins said it will take three days or longer to get results back.
“Especially when it comes to healthcare workers and first responders, we don’t need to know three days from now, we need to know right away,” he continued.
On Sunday, a second drive-thru test site will open at the Ellis Davis Field House located at 9191 South Polk Street in Dallas.
Between the two locations, Jenkins said there would be 4,800 coronavirus test kits, until the county can get more from the federal government.
In Farmer’s Branch, a company called Assist Health Group usually performs colon cancer screenings but it also has an in-home test kit for COVID-19.
To date, Assist Health Group said it sent out 250 of its tests and would distribute more if only it could get medical supplies to make them.
"What the labs are saying is that if you send me these I can test as many as you can give me, but they don't have any of these,” said Ali Poonawala with Assist Health Group.
Dallas County leads the state with confirmed coronavirus cases, and experts said it will take both public and private efforts to not only identify those with the virus but also to contain it.
More on WFAA:
- Patients complain about difficulty getting tested even with all the symptoms of COVID-19
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- FDA issues warning about unauthorized in-home coronavirus tests
- These are the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Dallas-Fort Worth