Killeen’s “covax sites” have been successful, but their future is uncertain.
According to Fire Chief James Kubinski, these “covax sites” — testing sites that also offer vaccines — are expensive to maintain, perhaps too much so.
Testing is currently at a premium, he explained in a Tuesday City Council workshop, adding that the state will no longer pick up the cost of testing kits.
“On a typical testing day, we run out of kits around 5 p.m.,” Kubinski said.
Kubinski added that, without state aid, the weekend drive-thru testing sites become costly for the city.
“It costs around $10,000 [per weekend] for enough test kits to run those sites,” he said.
The revelation comes at an awkward crossroads — just two weeks ago, Mayor Jose Segarra declared a state of local disaster in order to secure state funding. And while the city will continue to receive compensation via operational offsets and personnel, it will fall to city staff and the City Council to secure funding for the covaccination sites.
The city currently has a little over $1 million in “rainy day funds” secured from the American Rescue Plan Act that could be used for this purpose, but so far no council members have proposed such a solution.
Without $10,000 a weekend, the city will be forced to reduce its program to only provide vaccinations, which would be unfortunate, Kubinski said, because the city has seen real success.
“I’ve had people go through the testing line with no symptoms, find out they were positive, and turn right back around to get into the vaccination line,” Kubinski said.
Executive Director of Communications Janell Ford reported that, during the Sept. 2 through 4 weekend covaccination event, 139 vaccines were administered and 1,309 tests were given, catching 163 positive cases.
The city of Killeen will continue offering free COVID-19 vaccines and tests Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. at the Killeen special events center, 3301 S. W.S. Young Dr.
It remains to be seen exactly what route the city will take, but residents may rest assured that they will have access to free testing at least until the end of the month.
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