Ector County can set up new testing site if hospitals get overwhelmed

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ECTOR COUNTY, Tx. (KOSA) - Ector County is laying the foundation for a new COVID-19 testing center to handle an increased load of tests if the pandemic hits the county hard.

Right now, the two local hospitals as well as a few private labs are handling all the testing in the area.

However, they may need backup.

Doctors said this morning they’re testing about 20 people each day, but commissioners expressed concern that more might be needed down the line.

“And I’m very concerned that over the medical side we’re going to be overwhelmed,” Ector County Commissioner Dale Childers said. “So, we need to be prepared.”

That preparation began Monday morning in the commissioner’s courtroom where the county made the first steps to setting up a new testing site.

The commissioners agreed to set up an account with CPL, a COVID testing vendor.

Then, if necessary, they’d set up a drive thru wherever there’s available space and staff it with hospital employees who would administer those tests.

“There’s not an emergency plan that was written to handle the crisis that every city, every county every state is enduring right now,” Ector County Judge Debi Hays said.

The county’s decision to get involved in COVID testing comes just a few weeks after officials failed to keep track of testing at private labs.

There was some debate on whether these steps really need to be taken just yet since the hospitals haven’t shown any signs of getting overwhelmed just yet.

However, Childers argued the county should cut through all the red tape early on so they can be ready either way.

“If we don’t start now, then in a week we can’t do it,” he said. “I can promise you that. I don’t know if we’ll need to do it. I really don’t have a clue and I don’t think anyone in this room or even the health department. But I want to be ready in case we do.”

It’s going to be all up to the hospitals to decide if that new testing center needs to be activated.

However, if everyone works to social distance and flatten the curve they won’t have to.