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COVID-19 testing rates down across Central Texas; experts credit vaccines and good hygiene

Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-15 23:35:20-04

While many Texans were snowed in their homes last month, operations across Central Texas closed, including COVID-19 testing sites. This has left the state with some of the lowest testing rates seen in months.

However, the state bounced back from both the low temperatures and the low testing numbers.

“At first, we knew that the terrible winter storm had really decreased testing for those couple of weeks,” explained Amy Mersiovsky, the director of nursing at Texas A&M - Central Texas.

Now, a month later, the state reports administering about 63,000 molecular tests. That’s nearly half of the tests we saw during the winter months or at the peak of the pandemic in Texas.

“We are definitely seeing less people needing the test when they come in, which means less people are showing up having symptoms of COVID," explained Karen Percell, the executive director of quality at AdventHealth Central Texas. "We're also seeing less of those tests that are administered to come back positive.”

Percell says there are multiple reasons for the low testing numbers.

First off, the amount of vaccines rolling out into our community is more than ever before.

She also credited it to the folks who continue to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask, even though Governor Greg Abbott lifted the mandate.

“We're still just getting credit to, you know, your good personal hygiene and your cooperative community efforts to keep the virus in control,” Percell said.

That leaves us with the question if the low rates are surprising.

“I'm not surprised that the testing rates are low because we anticipated, with or without any guidance from our government, that with a virus like this, you'll see ebbs and flows,” Percell explained.

While the testing rates are low, so are the number of people infected with the virus. In fact, in Bell County, case counts are about 17 times less compared to min-January, the peak of the pandemic in Texas.

“Even with those vaccines on board, some people could still become sick,” Mersiovsky said.

Both experts say it’s vital that we continue to follow CDC guidelines and get tested if you’re feeling any COVID-19 symptoms.