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How free surge COVID-19 testing is helping McLennan County

County saw record number of new cases Wednesday
Posted at 4:46 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 17:46:23-05

WACO, TX — McLennan County reported their all-time record high positive case count Wednesday at 217 cases in one day. Of those, 82 were reported from surge testing.

Free surge testing has been offered in throughout the county since the beginning of October. Although we're seeing cases rise, it's important to continue this practice to find those who are potentially spreading the virus.

Business owner Devin Li had to take advantage of the free testing after an employee tested positive outside of their working environment.

Li has always made sure his employees wear masks and are socially distant, but it's the continuation of those practices outside of his brick and mortar that is an issue.

"We were able to get the results honestly the next business day. It only took a day, so that was pretty quick," Li said.

Thankful for the free testing after an already money-draining year for many of us, it's important for people to get tested because you could be spreading the virus without even realizing it.

"The goal of this [surge testing] was to find all those asymptomatic cases," said Kelly Craine with the Waco McLennan County Public Health District.

The surge testing is also to help those who may have been exposed and want to get tested right away. The surge testing, being a saliva test, also helps with some who may not want to go to the doctors office and get a nose swab completed.

McLennan County is hitting milestones no one wants to see. Currently per 100,000 in population, the county is averaging 50 positive cases per day. The state of Texas has an average of 31 and the United States sits at 38 cases per day per 100,000 people.

The county's positivity rate is also soaring to 12%, while the state is at 10%.

"We really need to go back to those practices that we were so good at in the spring," Craine said.

When the positivity rate is at 10%, it's easy for a community to slow the spread. Below 3%, the community can suppress the virus.

"We just really all have to take it seriously. We all have to follow the social distancing guidelines," Craine said. "That's how we're going to end the spike."

Officials credit the spike to COVID-19 fatigue.

It's important for business owners like Li that people don't just forget a virus is here or else more businesses may need to close down again in the future.

"It's not just health risks but financial risks as well. So, it's really important to help the small business to stay healthy so we can all remain open," Li said.

The Waco McLennan County Public Health District has plans to continue free surge testing throughout January 2021.