During the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas, it has been discovered that hot spots for the state center around food processing facilities, jails and prisons, and nursing homes. Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott issued an order to conduct COVID-19 tests on 100 percent of staff and residents at nursing homes. In order to get this accomplished, he announced that there would be a partnership with the local fire departments.
In Big Spring and Howard County, there are 3 nursing home facilities that total in approximately 600 residents and staff and require testing. The state-mandated testing only applies to licensed nursing homes, such as Big Spring for Skilled Care, Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and Lamen-Lusk-Sanchez Texas State Veterans Home.
According to Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason, other than being provided with testing, there were no additional resources offered to get testing completed before the state’s deadline of May 25, 2020. Thomason advised that the Big Spring Fire Department had 4-5 off-duty personnel available to conduct 600 tests in a matter of days. Since the personnel had no training in conducting the tests, the city coordinated with the Texas Department of Emergency Management to bring in a surge team of approximately 20 people to complete the testing.
Two of the three nursing home facilities in Big Spring have been tested and testing at the last facility begins today, Friday.
As of Thursday afternoon, this brought the total number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Howard County to 731. 251have tested negative, 473 test results are still pending, and there have been 6 confirmed cases in the county. 5 of the 6 have recovered and there has been 1 death.