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Tarrant County now partnering with MedStar to do in-home COVID-19 testing

A memorandum of understanding setting up the partnership was signed Thursday.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday that will allow ambulance provider MedStar to start doing in-home COVID-19 testing for patients in the county who qualify. 

Currently, Tarrant County is performing 100 to 150 COVID-19 tests per day, Whitley said.  

That number does not include the number of tests done by private labs. 

On Thursday, the county announced that 100 people have now tested positive for the virus. 

Whitley told WFAA Thursday that the county had been doing in-home testing from the get-go but that the county's epidemiologists were performing most of them. 

"We didn't really want to take a chance on them going out and doing it, being exposed, and then having to be quarantined," Whitley said. 

Why no drive-thru testing?

With Dallas now being home to two drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites, a number of viewers are reaching out to WFAA wondering why other counties aren't setting up their own. 

Per Texas Health and Human Services, the state originally asked FEMA for 10 drive-thru sites but only got six. 

The six sites were divided up equally among Harris County, Bexar County and Dallas County, with each getting two until further notice. 

"We have never been offered the opportunity by the state to do that type of testing," Whitley said. 

Per Whitley, the best way to get a test in Tarrant County is to call your primary care doctor who will see if you meet the criteria.

He added to not go to the ER unless symptoms are no longer manageable. 

"Call ahead, they'll set up an appointment, tell you where to go, and that's where the test will actually be conducted."

What about hospital space?

As Dallas County moves to find and locate hospital buildings that can be used to house COVID-19 patients, Whitley said Tarrant County is doing the same.

During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott said that Dallas has around 1,700 available beds through a contingency plan. 

He said that the DFW metroplex has 2,300. 

Whitley said he wasn't sure how that data was calculated but told WFAA that Tarrant County has been preparing for weeks to get makeshift hospitals in place.

"We're talking with our hospitals, we're talking about the need, and we're hopeful we don't hit the projected estimates people are coming up with." 

Whitley did say that so far the medical community in Tarrant County appeared fine when it came to ventilator availability. 

"Tarrant County has been diligent and I'm proud of our citizens for staying at home," Whitley said. "We're going to get through this."

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