Last week public health officials were conducting COVID-19 testing at breakneck speed. Tests were being administered in large numbers at public testing locations daily and those results were being shipped out to be analyzed. Some local media reports are suggesting that testing has been “halted” and even that “extraordinary” measures were being undertaken to get supplies rushed into Nueces County.
On Tuesday evening, KRIS SIX News reported that that Nueces County had requested supplies from the state at least 21 times. State officials say that the request for supplies had actually been only received over the weekend. The report also stated that Judge Canales said that she had no timetable as to when the requested supplied would arrive here in Nueces County. The state had advised the county that they would be getting their request and most of it would be arriving on Wednesday morning.
The Texas Department of State Health Services notified local officials on Tuesday prior to the 5:00 pm press briefing that the requested viral transport medium (VTM) and swabs that are needed for the test would arrive on Thursday morning in Nueces County.
The request for items such as test tubes, lab coats, and other medical supplies DSHS says they do not have those supplies on hand and they would have to order them.
Rachel Hendrickson, Government Affairs for the Department of State Health Services advised officials that the agency’s operations center would be reaching out to the requestor (Nueces County/Corpus Christi Public Health) to “understand their barriers to ordering” those supplies.
There has been plenty of talk about reagents. The specific reagents requested by local public health officials are manufactured by pharmaceutical manufacture Roche. Hendrickson said in the email that “locals” are using the Roche brand reagent to support drive-thru testing until the Panther Brand reagent (suitable for the Canadian manufactured Hologic testing system) can get shipped.
Hendrickson went onto explain to the officials that the Roche brand reagents come directly from Roche Pharma directly to the local labs that have requested them. The state does not have access to the Roche Brand.
“We are talking to the lab more about what options might be available to assist,” Hendrickson told the officials in the email. “I know TDEM (Texas Department of Emergency Management) has been in contact with the judge (Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales) to try to assist with any specimens already collected using their contracted lab.”
Another news report from ABC affiliate Kiii in Corpus Christi claimed that testing had been “halted.”
On Tuesday, the Texas National Guard tested hundreds of area residents at the Waves Resort facility out on North Padre. Nueces County Commissioner Brent Chesney said on Wednesday that there were already 400 people on site to be tested. Exact numbers have yet to returned, but visual estimates appear that at least that many were tested.
While testing was being conducted out on North Padre, other tests were being conducted in area nursing homes and long-term care facilities. So testing has far from stopped.
On the surface it appears that public health officials may have simply waited too long to send in the request for supplies. We have reached out to the City of Corpus Christi and Public Health officials for an answer to that question. On Monday, officials from Nueces County admitted that the request had been sent in over the weekend.
This story has been updated throughout.
*This story has been updated to correct an error indicating today (June 30, 2020) as being Wednesday. The original article contained the error twice and has been corrected. We regret this error.