Downtown COVID testing site still open

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By SCOTT AKANEWICH

Anyone passing by Water Tower Parking Lot on Loop 332 in downtown Liberty Hill can clearly see the blue banner flapping in the breeze.

Curative is continuing to maintain their COVID-19 testing site in the shadow of the old concrete water tower a stone’s throw south of City Hall, administering approximately 300 tests per month since the site was opened in March.

According to Jamil Sabbagh, Curative general manager of field operations, the location was selected following a study of where it would be most suitable to serve its purpose.

“We had our growth team go out and survey different places,” said Sabbagh. “This site was handed along to us and we hopped right on board.”

Sabbagh said part of the process of determining where to set up is getting proper clearance from local officials.

“We can’t just set up someplace,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts.”

COVID tests are available free of charge, with the cost billed directly to insurance providers, while the uninsured are covered by the Health Resources and Services Administration Coverage Assistance Fund. Each COVID test is capable of detecting different variants of the virus.

Appointments are available, but walk-ups are also accepted.

In all, there are 77 test sites across Texas, with the nearest additional locations being in Georgetown and Round Rock, although as the pandemic begins to wind down and the need for testing starts to dwindle, some sites are being downsized in reaction to the lower demand.

“For example, our drive-through location at Dell Diamond in Round Rock now consists of walk-up trailers,” said Sabbagh. “We’ve begun to scale back.”

Ironically, Curative was founded in January 2020 with the goal to develop a vaccine for sepsis – which is a potentially deadly condition resulting from the presence of harmful microorganisms in the blood and the body’s reaction that can lead to organ failure – but quickly turned its attention to a new objective a few months later when the global COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.

Sabbagh added what Curative now hopes to accomplish is to give itself a reason to no longer exist in its current incarnation.

“Our goal is to put ourselves out of business,” he said.

At its other locations in the county, Curative offers all three approved vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Recent stats from Texas Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 53.7 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, while locally the numbers are significantly higher, with Williamson County currently sitting at 64.5 percent of residents 12 and older with at least one dose, which almost mirrors the national rate of 64.1 percent of people 18 and over.

Sabbagh said the Liberty Hill testing site will stay open as long as there is a continued need.

“We’re going to continue testing as long as there is a need in the community,” said Sabbagh. “The pandemic isn’t 100 percent over yet – there are still cases all over the U.S. – the only way to end it is to continue testing.”

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