EDINBURG, Texas – On the day same day a student and faculty member tested positive for COVID-19, UT-Rio Grande Valley announced it would be opening two drive-thru coronavirus testing sites.
The student tested positive for the virus after traveling out of state. The faculty member tested positive after returning from international travel.
The testing sites will be in Brownsville and Edinburg and will be open from Monday, March 30.
The testing kits have been acquired by U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, said Dr. John H. Krouse, dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine.
“The UTRGV School of Medicine is at the forefront of providing our community with healthcare resources, including COVID-19 testing,” Krouse said. “We are proud of our healthcare professionals for stepping up, and we thank Congressman Vicente Gonzalez for being instrumental in making sure we obtained the testing kits necessary to serve our community.”
Krouse said the drive-thru sites will be open to employees, students and the public, and on-site evaluations will be available by appointment only for those 18 years of age or older who qualify after mandatory telephone screening.
He said protocols have been put in place to avoid testing-site congestion; to make sure that test kits will be used for those with severe symptoms; and to ensure that social distancing and other safety protocols are maintained.
Individuals without insurance can get screened for COVID-19 at no cost. Results of the tests will be confirmed within days for those tested, and prescriptions for testing will be provided by UTRGV physicians at the point of care.
Individuals should arrive at the UT Health RGV drive-thru testing site with their identification.
According to Krouse, the UTRGV SOM’s practice plan, UT Health RGV, the Office of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, Hidalgo and Cameron county leaders, and the City of Brownsville, are working in collaboration to combat the spread of COVID-19 by establishing drive-thru testing sites.
Krouse said teamwork has been pivotal. “We are grateful to our partners at the federal, state and local levels for their help in making this possible,” he said.
Gonzalez said he was glad to help.
“Drive-thru testing is an evident way to curb the spread of the virus and flatten the curve,” Gonzalez said. “UTRGV is a critical partner in protecting the welfare of South Texans, and I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that our communities receive the resources and tools they need to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the university will work with local and state officials, as well as local hospitals, to ensure that mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on the community is a priority.
“We are thankfulto be able to assist in combating the spread of COVID-19 and are extremely grateful to Congressman Gonzalez for his help in making this possible,” he said. “Working together, we can significantly impact the spread of the virus.”
To make an appointment, call ahead to the UT Health RGV Patient Communications Center at 1-833 – UTRGVMD (1-833-887-4863) to be screened.
For additional questions about symptoms, prescriptions and UTRGV COVID-19 drive-thru appointment times, call 1-833-UTRGVMD and visit the UTRGV COVID-19 website UTRGV.edu/Coronavirus for university updates.
Message from UTRGV President Guy Bailey
President Bailey sent an email to students, faculty and staff after learning that a UTRGV student and faculty member had contracted the coronavirus.
This is what he said:
Dear Campus Community:
UTRGV learned today that one of our students and one of our faculty have each tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). Our student tested positive after traveling out of state and our faculty member after returning from international travel. Please join me in sending positive thoughts to these Vaqueros for a speedy recovery.
While news of our first positive cases is alarming, we should also try to remain calm and stay prepared. The Rio Grande Valley is expecting an increase in the number of cases as the region begins to ramp up testing capabilities.
Rest assured that UTRGV has been implementing proactive measures since January to help mitigate risks for our students, faculty and staff. We are still confident that these measures will allow us to minimize the amount of positive cases not only for UTRGV, but for the Rio Grande Valley community.
More on the positive cases
The student is a resident of Casa Bella Apartments on the Brownsville Campus. After traveling out of state, the student briefly returned to Casa Bella to pick up personal items. The student then returned to Casa Bella a couple days later and currently is in isolation and receiving care while following protocols from Student Health Services in coordination with the Cameron County Health Department.
To help mitigate risks for other apartment residents, the Department of Housing and Residence Life has increased the frequency of sanitation in common spaces and has encouraged all residents to follow personal measures as outlined by UT Health RGV.
The faculty member returned home to self-isolate immediately upon returning from his international trip. He is currently receiving care from home while following protocols from Student Health Services in coordination with the Hidalgo County Health Department.
In an effort to prevent the spread, UTRGV proactively moved all but essential operations off campus on Monday of this week. Although this effort may cause some temporary inconveniences and frustrations, it will protect you from the spread of this dangerous virus.
Additionally, it is critical that each of us take necessary precautions, which can be found on our UT Health RGV website.
Most importantly, if you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing; have traveled internationally or traveled to an area in the US with known outbreak of the virus; or have been exposed to a sick traveler from any of these areas or been exposed to a person with COVID-19COVID-19COVID-19 infection in the last 14 days, you should contact Student and Employee Health Services.
Make sure to call ahead before going to your doctor’s office or emergency department to prevent any potential spread. You can find contact info, locations and hours of operation for Student and Employee Health Services here.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows testing for COVID-19 being conducted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Credit for the photo goes to Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.