Hundreds Of People In San Antonio Turn Out For Free Walkup COVID-19 Testing Site | Texas Public Radio

Hundreds Of People In San Antonio Turn Out For Free Walkup COVID-19 Testing Site

May 9, 2020

The City of San Antonio has offered free walkup COVID-19 testing for the last three days at Las Palmas Library and Woodlawn Lake Park. Saturday was the last day.


People could show up without symptoms, a doctor's note or an appointment.

At Las Palmas Library, hundreds of people took advantage of the service. They patiently waited in line. Medical workers and support staff handed out chairs so people could sit and wait for their turn. As the people moved closer to the medical checkpoints, they stood under blue tents the workers set up to provide some shade during the sunny spring day.

Among those in line stood a woman named Norma. She asked TPR not use her last name. She waited with her friend, Lupe Escalante. They were patient, and appreciative.

"It doesn't matter how we wait," Norma said. "What matters is that they're doing something good in San Antonio, Texas."

The women had tried on Friday to get a test, but the testing sites are limited to 150 tests per day, and that limit had been reached by the time the friends arrived.

Jennifer Herriott, assistant director of community health with San Antonio’s Metropolitan Health District, said the city also runs several long term, no-cost testing sites, but an appointment is required to receive those tests. For people without access to the internet, that can make actually getting a test difficult.

"We are locating these pop ups in predominantly communities of color," she explained. "So we are on the West Side, South Side, North Side of San Antonio."

More free walk-up sites have not yet been announced. But the city recognizes the need.

"And so I think we're really trying to reach people who probably don't have a medical provider," Herriott explained, "people who don't generally access medical care even when they need it, and people who don't have insurance."

Metro Health hopes to expand testing capacity across the board, she added, and that includes having more than 150 tests available at each pop-up site.

Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.

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