COVID-19 positive testing rates in Texas are still higher than the 10 percent Governor Greg Abbott said he would like to see, and there are many regions around the state that are still experiencing flare-ups and outbreaks. Testing is more accessible than it was several months ago, but in smaller communities, access is still an issue.
Dallas-based WellHealth, an advanced primary care provider that also contracts directly with employers to expand testing, developed mobile testing units that are working through a consortium of Texas Division of Emergency Management, HealthtrackRX, and Wellpay, to improve testing around the state. With the possibility of another COVID-19 spike this fall, scaling up testing across the state is essential, and WellHealth’s program is geared toward that end. They have launched GoGetTested.com, which allows municipalities and property and business owners to schedule a mobile testing unit to come to their location. They are also directed by TDEM or municipalities to locations that need more testing. GoGetTested units have been deployed to smaller communities like Mount Pleasant and Waxahachie that may not have the resources to run their own testing sites, and are in talks with the cities of Garland, and Coppell. Here in Dallas, the mobile unit set up a pop-up testing site with the nonprofit Sharing Life on a recent Saturday, testing 300 people in the process.
The units run FDA approved tests and have the ability to come and go when needed. Patients can digitally schedule tests and complete requisite paperwork prior to the test, which usually take 5-10 minutes. WellHealth says they are texting and emailing results to patients 48-96 hours after the test due to the efficiency of their testing lab partner, HealthtrackRx. The sites take insurance, cash pay, and can be subsidized by the contracting entity as well.
In addition to helping a region take control of the virus, the testing units can be a boon for the businesses near where they operate. “It drives traffic to the business, and it helps to know that they are doing what they can to fight the pandemic,” says Mouyyad Abdulhadi, Chief Marketing Officer at WellHealth.
The provider has 11 mobile units right now, but is looking to expand to 21 in coming weeks. They have hired 87 people in DFW alone. The first step is to take over existing testing sites, but the company will be sending out mobile units soon, Abdulhadi says. WellHealth will look at testing a infection rates and highlight ZIP codes that need more testing, and then land owners will be contacted to see if the mobile units can deploy to those areas, which are often big box stores or other areas with large parking lots. Due to grants, testing is free for all patients. “We will need vendors to scale testing across entire state as cases go up,” Abdulhadi says.
With the future of the disease unknown, especially as flu season hits, the technology and infrastructure that is currently used for COVID-19 testing can be used to give flu shots and an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. WellHealth is in conversations to expand outside of Texas, and is in speaking to leaders in Arizona, Florida, and Michigan.