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Federally Funded Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Will Continue At Dallas Locations Through April

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Two drive-thru novel coronavirus testing sites in Dallas will remain open through the end of April.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says the federal government was planning to pull its funding after April 10, but has now agreed to continue.

"He just all of a sudden said, "Mom, I don't feel good," recalled mother Linnea Johnstone, one of thousands who made the drive to the American Airlines Center site after her 15-year-old son started showing symptoms. "I feel clammy. I feel weak. I feel like I'm getting the flu," he told her.

But, like many others who've undergone testing, getting results is taking longer than expected. The initial paperwork the family received said it could be between 3 – 5 days. Now, seven days later, they are still waiting.

"I can understand that they are backed up ," Johnstone said. "I think, though, I've called the Dallas Health Department this morning and I've called Texas Department of State Health and nobody knows who to refer you to and that's kind of the problem."

COVID-19 testing AAC 2
(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

In an e-mail, Judge Clay Jenkins' chief of staff, Lauren Trimble, told CBS 11 News, "The two drive thru sites at the AAC and Ellis Davis are actually federally based community testing sites, not run by the county. Tests from the two sites are sent to private, commercial labs (Quest and Labcorp)."

Both private labs have struggled to handle enormous demand. Labcorp is reporting a turnaround of 4 to 5 days Quest Diagnostics says it's still working to clear 80,000 tests from its backlog -- that's down from 160,000 tests nearly two weeks ago.

In an effort to not overwhelm labs, the federal government has capped the number of people who can get tested at each of the Dallas County drive-thru sites at 250 a day.

Both sites have been regularly hitting that cap and the county had asked it be raised to allow for more testing. But as part of the agreement reached this week to continue the federally funded testing the daily limit of 250 tests will remain.

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