Tarrant County is now offering at-home coronavirus tests for people who can’t make it to an appointment.
Health officials will distribute 50 tests to gauge interest before deciding whether to expand, Vinny Taneja, the county’s public health director, told county commissioners during their meeting on Tuesday.
“We don’t want anybody to have any barriers for testing,” he said.
Residents will be able to request an at-home test online.
The county is also introducing a COVID-19 self-reporting portal to help improve contact tracing efforts.
The self-reporting tool will allow people to tell public health officials that they’ve tested positive once they get their results.
Almost half of the people who test positive for coronavirus do not answer contact tracing calls. Taneja believes most people don’t answer the calls from contact tracers because they think it’s a scam or that they they don’t need to work with public health officials.
COVID-19 hospitalizations increase
Coronavirus hospitalizations and people with COVID-like Illness are increasing, Taneja said.
COVID patients occupy 8% of hospital beds, up from between 6% and 7%, the highest it’s been since Aug. 26.
“It’s not a major spike like what we were seeing this past Memorial Day or around Fourth of July,” Taneja said. “There seems to be a slow but persistent increase in activity.”
The percentage of emergency room visits related to COVID19-like illness has been increasing since Sept, 1, when it was at 1.6% Now it’s at 2.1%, according to county data.
Taneja said he credits the use of masks, social distancing and the overall awareness that people now have of COVID-19 as reasons why the county is not experiencing a major spike.