DALLAS —Dallas County is seeing the highest daily case rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The county’s provisional seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases recently reported a rate of 79.8 daily new cases per 100,000 residents.
A new, free coronavirus testing site in North Dallas is aiming to curve those numbers and is receiving a great response from the community.
The site, a partnership between The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and MCI Diagnostic Center in Dallas, had a line of cars during its first hour of operation on January 11.
“It’s really nice to find something so convenient,” said 38-year-old Mansfield resident Eric Austin. He was one of the first in line eager to take advantage of the free service.
The testing site is being operated out of a former bank building. Beneficiaries like Austin drive their car through what was once the bank’s drive-thru lane. Once parked, they can communicate with a lab technician via two-way video. Those technicians then send the nasal-swab testing kit from inside a canister sent through the bank’s vacuum-tube system–making the testing contact-free.
77-year-old Garland resident Evelyn McNeil places her COVID-test kit in the vacuum tube to be sent back to the lab technician. (Spectrum News 1/Lupe Zapata)
Austin will get his results by email in about two days, just in time for an out-of-country trip he’s looking forward to. He loves traveling and has done a lot of it over the past year. He warns about needing to do your research before a trip to another country.
“Requirements may change without notice,” said Austin. “You may think that you need a test within 72 hours and they can change it to 48 hours, or you may need to fill out certain forms to get into the country before you can even get on your flight. It’s important to stay abreast to what’s going on.”
Another person waiting in line early opening day was Garland resident Evelyn McNeil. She was in one of the first cars, not far behind Austin.
Like Austin, she didn’t care too much for the nose swab, but says the assurance this test offers outweighs the discomfort. She recently developed a light cough and wants to make sure it’s not COVID-19. She lives with her brother, Arthur. He’s an immune-compromised dialysis patient and she wants to keep him safe.
“He’s been tested, so I need to get tested so that I know that I’m alright,” said McNeil. “He doesn’t get out. I’ll go maybe to the grocery store once a week, and I try to take precautions in what I do when I’m out, like wearing the mask, keeping distance.”
McNeil has lost three family members to COVID-19. One of those was her cousin Bobby Glen West Jr. He died at just 35. His death came as a shock because he was considered low-risk.
As a former nurse, McNeil says taking the vaccine is a “no-brainer” and she looks forward to her two shots when they become available to her. As a 77-year-old Black woman, she understands the hesitation from her peers and family who don’t trust the vaccine. She hopes her taking the vaccine will ease their apprehension.
“I want to say to all the people of color – and especially my race, the Black people – go ahead and take the vaccine,” said McNeil. “This is a deadly virus, all we have to do is turn the TV on and we see how many people are dying.”
McNeil hopes this testing site keeps busy so her part of North Texas stays safe.
MCI Diagnostic Center is located at 9728 Greenville Ave., Dallas, Texas 75243. This testing site will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of operation. Testing is open to all, there is no residency or COVID-19 symptoms requirement to be tested and all screenings are free.
Those receiving a test should present address and photo ID in order to receive results. Non-state issued IDs are accepted. This testing site is operating separately from the mobile, in-home testing services MCI Diagnostic Center provides for the City of Dallas.
For a full list of testing locations and how to request in-home testing services, visit https://dallascityhall.com/Pages/Coronavirus-Testing-Sites.aspx or call 214-670-INFO.
If you have an interesting story or an issue you’d like to see covered, let us know about it. Share your ideas with DFW reporter Lupe Zapata: Lupe.Zapata@Charter.com