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Health District Guides Wilco Through Pandemic

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 16 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 321
  • 0 Comments

WCCHD nurses Kaitlin Murphee (lf) in the clinical services division and Lori Eitelbach (rt) with the Tuberculosis program prepare supplies for COVID-19 testing at the Williamson County and Cities Health District in April.

No one imagined in 1943 when the Williamson County Health Department was established that it later would become a health district, and one day be at the forefront of preserving our public health against a worldwide pandemic.

In 1989, under the Texas Local Public Health Reorganization Act, the county and the cities of Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and Taylor established the Williamson County and Cities Health District through a cooperative agreement.

The agreement was revised and re-adopted in 1992 and again in 2007, when Liberty Hill and Hutto joined WCCHD. In 2013, Leander enlisted. Any incorporated city in the county with a population over 15,000 may apply to join the health district.

The Williamson County Board of Health, as the administrative authority for the health district, sets policies to promote and preserve public health and safety. The Williamson County Commissioners Court appoints two directors, while each participating city appoints one board member.   

WCCHD Executive Director Derrick Neal said the health district allows each participating city to customize its own services to better meet the needs of its residents, especially with COVID-19’s challenges.

Of WCCHD’s 92 full-time employees and eight contractors, roughly 70 perform COVID-related work. WCCHD’s 58 investigators include 41 epidemiologists, nurses, surge volunteers and staff, six contact tracers and 11 call center volunteers.

There are three types of investigations. An epidemiological investigation occurs when individual cases of possible COVID illness or exposure are reported to the health district. A WCCHD staff member then calls those individuals and interviews them about their symptoms, where they’ve been and their close contacts over a specific time.

Contact tracing team members call the person’s contacts identified during the epi investigation informing them they probably were exposed to a COVID-19 case and should stay home for 14 days.

WCCHD recently transitioned to state contact tracing, which will provide additional resources with the tremendous growth in new cases.

For clusters—sites with two or more positive cases—public health staff conduct on-site assessments, offer education, consulting and other services. One or more cases at a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, is considered a cluster.  Wilco EMS and firefighters investigate these clusters and establish safety controls through isolation and testing everyone.

WCCHD also has run a public testing drive-through at a Georgetown middle school that offered at least 60 tests every weekday from April 30 until it closes July 17. Seven WCCHD staff, seven volunteers, five Georgetown Fire Department firefighters and one Weir firefighter tested people through their car windows as they drove up.

Update on Family Emergency Room COVID-19 testing

by Wilco's Public Information Office

  • 15 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 285
  • 0 Comments

Family Emergency Room Offering COVID-19 Testing

Williamson County and Family Emergency Room announced an improved contract to provide better COVID-19 testing services. Testing is available for all. The charges for COVID-19 tests are currently covered by most insurance companies, and Family Emergency Room will bill the patient's insurance company at no cost to the patient. Tests for any Williamson County resident without insurance will be paid for by the county. Family Emergency Room will provide a seamless scheduling process. This improvement will ensure that residents no longer need to wait for a call back to schedule an appointment. Residents can count on drive-thru style testing at the facilities located at:

  • 3620 E Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park
  • 1860 S Lakeline Blvd, Cedar Park
  • 1925 A.W. Grimes Blvd, Round Rock

Due to high demand, testing is being prioritized for symptomatic individuals; however, asymptomatic and antibody testing is also available for a fee and is being scheduled within a five to eight day period. To get tested for COVID-19 visit https://familyhospitalsystems.com/covid-19.   

COVID-19 Risk Chart

Chart is from the Texas Medical Association - Enlarge your screen to read it

  • 7 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 327
  • 0 Comments

UPDATED AGAIN - Williamson County To Host Free COVID-19 Testing Sites

From Wilco's Public Information Office

  • 6 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 346
  • 0 Comments

The Williamson CounGraphics with words announcing Free COVID-19 Testingty Office of Emergency Management, in partnership with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Military Department, will be hosting free COVID-19 testing starting Monday, July 6!. The City of Liberty Hill is rescheduling their COVID-19 testing for a different date in the future. Testing locations will open  at 10 a.m. until testing supplies last at the following dates and locations:  

·       July 6 at Hutto Middle School, located at 1005 Exchange Blvd, Hutto 

·       July 7 & 8 at Jarrell Middle School, located at 101 E, Avenue F, Jarrell 

·       July 9 & 10 at Taylor Main Street Intermediate School, located at 3101 N Main Street, Suite #102, Taylor

All three sites are walk-up sites and will not require an appointment prior to being tested. People interested in getting tested will be asked to park and line up for their turn. It is important to note that due to demand there may be long wait times. Residents are urged to bring a water bottle and a form of shade to cover from the sun if necessary. People do not need to have symptoms in order to be tested. For more information please visit www.wilco.org.  

Commissioner Cook Shares Gov. Abbott's Press Release On Statewide Face Covering Executive Order

She also wants people to observe the Governor's Proclamation on gathering limits. Links to both can be accessed after selecting READ MORE.

  • 2 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 325
  • 0 Comments

Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order requiring all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions. The Governor also issued a proclamation giving mayors and county judges the ability to impose restrictions on some outdoor gatherings of over 10 people, and making it mandatory that, with certain exceptions, people cannot be in groups larger than ten and must maintain six feet of social distancing from others. 

"Wearing a face covering in public is proven to be one of the most effective ways we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces. Likewise, large gatherings are a clear contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restricting the size of groups gatherings will strengthen Texas’ ability to corral this virus and keep Texans safe. We all have a responsibility to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. If Texans commit to wearing face coverings in public spaces and follow the best health and safety practices, we can both slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texas open for business. I urge all Texans to wear a face covering in public, not just for their own health, but for the health of their families, friends, and for all our fellow Texans.”

Additionally, the Governor released a new video message to coincide with his Executive Order, encouraging Texans to do their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep their communities safe. The video can be downloaded at this link and can also be viewed on YouTube.

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