At least two more free coronavirus drive-up testing sites will open soon in San Antonio, one in the parking lot of a Westside Walmart Supercenter and another at a Texas MedClinic urgent care center on the South Side, officials said Tuesday.
Currently, the only free, drive-up option for testing someone with symptoms is at the Joe Freeman Coliseum, where more than 400 tests can be administered per day. Walmart’s drive-up testing capacity at 8923 W. Military Dr. will be 200 per day and Texas MedClinic will be able to test 50 per day, increasing the countywide testing capacity (including hospitals and private providers) to more than 1,500 specimens per day.
The Texas Army National Guard also is considering setting up additional testing sites that could test 150 to 200 people per day, though details have not been finalized, said Dawn Emerick, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
Walmart, in a partnership with Quest Diagnostics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, plans to open more than 20 testing sites in at least 10 states by the end of April. The first Texas site is scheduled to open Friday in Lubbock.
“The only thing that [the retailer] asked the City to do is just help with law enforcement,” Emerick told City Council during its Tuesday videoconference.
It was unclear what appointment system or criteria for testing Walmart will use. A spokesperson for the retailer said more details would be released as details are finalized this week.
Texas MedClinic already administers medical exams and tests for coronavirus at its 19 locations in central Texas. The test and exam have a fee that most insurance plans cover. The additional drive-up testing site will operate the same way the Freeman Coliseum operates: by appointment only and only for people who have symptoms, Emerick said.
The location of the Southside clinic could not be confirmed in time for publication.
The expansion of testing is seen as one of several crucial steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and for allowing businesses to reopen. Last week, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff appointed a COVID-19 Health Transition Team, comprised of medical experts, to identify what precautions and systems need to be in place before that can happen.
That group has a deadline of April 27 to develop a plan.
Meanwhile, five working groups are tackling the day-to-day challenges in areas of federal and state advocacy, philanthropy, food security and shelter, business and employment, and social services. All 10 council members and all four county commissioners serve on at least one committee along with community leaders, such as business owners and service providers, and their staffs.
That work is now summarized on a website, sacovidaction.com, aimed at providing information and transparency surrounding the groups’ progress, said Gordon Hartman, a businessman and philanthropist who is coordinating the COVID-19 Community Action groups.
“[The website] still has a little bit of work that needs to be done … but for the most part it will [be] a real opportunity for the public to see what is going on,” Hartman said.
Each group’s weekly report are available for download as well as a work flow chart, he said. There’s also a contact and suggestion form where anyone can email Hartman with questions, ideas, or resources.
A digital town hall meeting is planned to collect more public input, he said.
“That discussion is going on right now,” he said. “[We want to] make sure that we’re not just doing what we think is best, but also hearing from all the citizens.”