Odessa Fire Rescue testing nursing homes for COVID-19

ODESSA, Tx (KOSA) -- As Governor Greg Abbott continues to re-open Texas, he’s mandated that all nursing home residents and staff be tested for COVID-19.

For help, he’s turning to the local fire departments, like Odessa Fire Rescue.

“It’s really important that we test nursing home patients,” OFR Assistant Medical Director Jason Cooper said. “Because that’s where the highest number of fatalities are from COVID-19.“

The city says Ector County has seven licensed nursing homes, and OFR plans to test everyone in them by May 25.

That’ll be about 1100 tests in just a few days.

“Odessa Fire Rescue is already poised to accomplish this task,” Cooper said. “Because we’ve been performing the drive-thru testing for the general public. So when this mandate came down it was real easy for us to switch gears and go mobile with the program.”

Cooper said that in the beginning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lack of testing equipment nationwide, but that is no longer an issue.

A team of about 12 medics are carrying out all the testing.

“We are proud to be part of this community,” Cooper said. “We want to really work together to re-open the community. This is an essential service, so we really appreciate everyone’s support.”

According to the governor, the cost for providing these tests is eligible for reimbursement by the federal government.