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Health District Guides Wilco Through Pandemic

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 16 July 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 310
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People line up at Mitchell Elementary parking lot in Georgetown to be tested for COVID-19 in their cars by the Medical Reserve Corps July 8, 2020.

The health district partnered with Austin Public Health to use their online screening and scheduling system for these tests. A $100,000 grant from St. David’s Foundation helped fund kits for the Georgetown testing site and pay Austin Public Health. WCCHD expected to administer about 5,000 tests at the Georgetown site.

At the testing site, volunteers checked people in and performed logistics such as planning, setting up the site, training volunteers and stocking supplies. Others called the elderly to check in on them. The volunteers included school nurses, community members and even former WCCHD employees/retirees.

WCCHD has spent over $500,000 for COVID services. A million dollars recently awarded from the state may help the WCCHD’s coronavirus operations through December. About 1,000 test kits can cost $100,000 and last 15 to 16 days, depending on the number of tests performed.

While health districts aren’t required to conduct testing, state law mandates that they continue investigating and reporting COVID cases because it is a public health crisis.

The National Guard began opening testing sites July 6 in advance of the Georgetown site closing. The Round Rock and Cedar Park Family Emergency clinics will continue their free testing for the uninsured, in this great example of public/private partnership, and will bill insurance companies for those insured.

The level of leadership and organization WCCHD has shown is evident not only with COVID but through its Public Health Board accreditation. It is only one of five nationally accredited health districts in Texas, and WCCHD is applying for its second accreditation to be designated in 2021.

They’ve shown resiliency, flexibility and adaptability in working with their small numbers of staffing and recruiting, training and accommodating all the volunteers from within Wilco government and from central Texas.

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