On another staggering day for new COVID-19 omicron cases across Texas, Peterson Health announced opening up an emergency testing center on Thursday to help handle the crush of people seeking tests.
Peterson Regional Medical Center said 58 people tested positive on Wednesday, 13 people were hospitalized, with three in the intensive care unit. The Texas Department of State Health Services said the omicron variant infected another 40,000 people Wednesday. However, that number could be far higher because DSHS reporting appears backlogged.
With no take-home testing kits available commercially, Peterson said it would open the Peterson Health Medical Plaza, 1331 Bandera Highway, for testing by appointment only. The testing is from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. A physician referral is not required, but Peterson asks those interested in making an appointment by visiting: www.petersonhealth.com and clicking on the link on the top banner of the homepage, which will re-direct you to the patient portal for registration.
"Peterson recognized the need to expand COVID-19 testing," said Tracy Davis, Peterson's vice president of population health. "Our team quickly established a self-swab testing center and we are proud to continue supporting our community's healthcare needs."
The center will only offer self-swab testing. Peterson Health will have an employee available to give instructions. However, you will need to perform your own swab.
On Wednesday, DSHS reported that hospitalizations rose to 8,100 across the state. While omicron may present milder symptoms, especially for those vaccinated, the crush of new cases could overwhelm the hospitals.
"COVID admissions are increasing at Peterson and we are concerned," Peterson President and CEO Cory Edmondson said. "Thankfully, we've been managing this for two years and we know how to treat patients; however, that doesn't make it easy on our staff. We still require masking in the hospital and take precautions to help mitigate the spread. We don't know what to anticipate or how long this 4th wave will last, but we pray it is short-lived."
Since Dec. 13, 1.7 million Texans sought COVID-19 tests, with more than 415,000 testing positive. In a two-day stretch, Dec. 27-28, 310,000 Texans sought molecular tests, with more than 90,000 testing positive. DSHS, however, didn't report those numbers until this week. Positivity on molecular tests, which most hospitals use, is 34%.
The two-day totals are greater than what the state has seen for seasonal flu — for an entire year.