State launching COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program in Texas schools
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced the creation of a COVID-19 Rapid Testing Pilot Program for Texas school systems.
According to the announcement made by Governor Greg Abbott’s office, this program will help schools conduct rapid tests of district employees and students — with the written permission of their parents — “to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campuses.”
TDEM will provide participating school systems with COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that will be administered to students, teachers, and staff who choose to participate.
“Schools enrolled in the program will also receive personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely administer the rapid tests, which produce reliable results within 15 minutes.”
Neighboring Lampasas ISD is one of the eight school systems in Texas that is participating with the pilot program. Also participating are Bob Hope School (Port Arthur), Fabens ISD, Grace Community School (Tyler), Granger ISD, Longview ISD, Harlingen Consolidated ISD, and Ysleta ISD.
The governor’s office stated that other Texas public and private schools interested in applying for the testing program will be able to apply through the Texas Education Agency no later than Wednesday, October 28.
The tests are being provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to Abbott’s office.
As of Oct. 13, Lampasas ISD has had a total of 25 students and five staff with positive, confirmed cases of COVID-19 thus far for the 2020-2021 school year. Presently, there are five active student cases at Lampasas High School, and one virtual student with an active case. LISD had an enrollment of approximately 3,300 students during the 2019-2020 school year.
On Tuesday, it was reported by Mayor Misti Talbert of Lampasas that Lampasas County COVID-19 cases had reached 384, with a total of 39 active cases, and 11 fatalities. At one point, the number of active cases had fallen to as low as 20. Last week Talbert said that the increase had been attributed to some multigenerational households coming down with COVID-19, according to Dr. Georgia Hay, local health authority for Lampasas County.
As far as the Copperas Cove Independent School District goes, as of Oct. 13 there were two active student cases within the district, one at Copperas Cove High School and one at Martin Walker Elementary, as well as two staff cases, one at Copperas Cove High School and one at Copperas Cove Junior High School.
This week, CCISD wraps up its ninth week of classes, and has had a total of 16 cases altogether since the start of school. They include 11 students and five staff, said Wendy Sledd, the district’s Director of Communications.
Where cases within the Copperas Cove city limits are concerned, there are a total of 414 as of Monday’s update from the city, which includes 82 active cases, up from 58 active cases last week. The cumulative case total has risen from 383, a jump of 31.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Coryell County has risen to 747 as of Tuesday, up from last Friday’s count of 736. There are 126 active cases.
Locally, there are 37 hospitalized for COVID-19 in area hospitals in Bell, Coryell, Lampasas, Hamilton, Mills, and Milam Counties, making up only 3.08 percent of local hospitalizations. It is not known exactly how many Coryell County residents are presently hospitalized with COVID-19.
“We very seldom get the hospitalization status on these cases from DSHS,” said Coryell County Judge Roger Miller. “The last case we received as hospitalized was a man in Copperas Cove on September 28, and the one before that was a woman from Evant on or about September 19. Prior to that it was a case from August 20. I cannot say with any degree of certainty what our hospitalization rate is at any given time.”
Hospitalizations statewide are at 4,131, up from 3,622 on Sunday. Thursday’s hospitalization rate is the highest number since Sept. 3. The statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 make up 6.34 percent of total hospitalizations.
Active cases in the state of Texas are now up to 78,639, with more than 800,000 positive cases statewide at 805,082. The state’s seven-day testing positivity rate is now up to 8.24 percent.
COVID-19 cases in Central Texas*
Bell County 407 active cases (5,853 total)
Burnet County 115 active cases (842 total)
Coryell County 126 active cases (747 total)
- Copperas Cove (city) 82 active cases (414 total)
- TDCJ in Coryell Co 29 active cases (1,111 total)
Lampasas County 39 active cases (384 total)
McLennan County 530 active cases (9,125 total)
Williamson County 181 active cases (9,043 total)
*As of press time Thursday, numbers from Texas DSHS, City of Copperas Cove, Coryell County, TDCJ COVID-19 dashboard, Bell County Public Health District