Late last week, Grayson County officials announced a new way for locals to get tested for COVID-19. The announcement came after funds were made available to help offset the costs of the tests, and the county was invited to take part in a contract between a Dallas-based advanced primary care provider and the state to help companies as well as smaller communities take on the tasks of widespread COVID-19 testing.


WellHealth set up testing on the parking lot of the Grayson County Health Department, 515 N. Walnut, in Sherman on Tuesday and will continue to be there from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday for at least another week.


Grayson County Office of Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers said Tuesday afternoon that the county was excited about the chance to expand testingand also to be able to take the responsibility of that testing off of the shoulders of the folks at the Health Department. That entity had been providing the testing since the pandemic began.


Officials expect the testing to be timely and efficient. Looking at the Gogettested.com sit early Wednesday morning showed that there were 460 slots available at the GCHD, and the average wait time for the test results from tests in Grayson County was 48 hours.


It also showed that the average wait time for the test to be administered was five minutes. WellHealth employees at the site on Tuesday advised that people should avoid eating or drinking anything in the 20 minutes prior to arrival for their testing appointment since it is an oral exam. The test can tell if a person currently has the COVID-19 virus or not. It does not confirm if they have had it in the past. It is not an antibody test. The tests are being processed by HealthtrackRx.


Grayson County Health Department Director Amanda Ortez marveled at the number of testing appointments that are open on each day.


"I think they had 550 plus spots that are available (daily) and we would not ever been able to provide that. So, I think this a valuable resource for the community," she said.


While no one going to get the test will be asked to pay for it, both Somers and WellHealth employees on site Tuesday, said that those registering for the test will be asked to show proof of insurance if they have it. Those who don’t have it will not be refused a test or asked to pay for it.


The two-week testing period that has initially been set up is to gauge public interest in the testing, and officials hope that if the community response is high, the testing will period will be extended.


Ortez stressed that just because people get tested, they can't let their guard down. They could get tested and then leave the testing site, stop somewhere along the way home like a grocery store or other place where there are a lot of people, and get infected. It is recommended that individuals still follow precautions like wearing a mask in public places when appropriate, hand washing frequently, keeping hand sanitizer close by when soap and water is not available and avoiding touching the face.


For those who get tested because they feel like they may have symptoms of COVID-19, Ortez said it is imperative to self isolate until test results confirm or do not confirm the presence of the virus. From there, follow a primary care giver's instructions.


WellHealth has set up testing sites in many other communities across North Texas. An August 20 article in DMagazine said WellHealth "has 11 mobile units right now, but is looking to expand to 21 in coming weeks. They have hired 87 people in DFW alone."


In that article, WellHealth Chief Marketing Officer said the first step would be to take over existing testing sites like the one at the Grayson County Health Department. However, he added that as time goes on, the company plans to look at testing infection rates and highlighting ZIP codes that need more testing. The company will then contact landowners with property big enough to allow for the testing to see if the mobile units can deploy to those areas. Big box stores are often used as testing sites.


To register to get a test, people can go to GoGetTested.com and follow the directions found there. Once people sign up for a test, they will be sent a QR code that they will show to the workers at the site. That code is scanned and the computer prints out the information needed to package up the test to be sent off for testing. That information tells the lab how to contact the patient with the test results.


For more coronavirus news, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.