January 12, 2022 - 5:15 pm
Updated January 13, 2022 - 12:55 am
Clark County officials hope that the opening this week of two new drive-through COVID-19 testing sites capable of administering an additional 40,000 tests a week will ease the demand that has led to long lines at the valley’s other main drive-thru site in Las Vegas.
The new sites at Texas Station in North Las Vegas and Fiesta Henderson will help meet testing demand that has nearly tripled since early December, said Dr. Fermin Leguen, health officer with the Southern Nevada Health District.
“Today is really a very important day for us,” he said.
Traffic jams and hourslong waits have occurred in recent weeks at the existing drive-thru site at Sam Boyd Stadium and its predecessor site at UNLV. The Texas Station site opened on Wednesday and the Fiesta Henderson site opens on Saturday.
The drive-thru sites have proven popular throughout the pandemic, allowing multiple family members to get tested at once, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Texas Station site.
But she and other Clark County and North Las Vegas officials stressed that more than 100 locations, including pharmacies and community partners, are offering testing and repeated the message that people should not go to hospitals to get tested.
“We have to make sure that we ease the burden on the health care system and get folks to our testing sites,” Commissioner William McCurdy II said.
As of Wednesday, available appointments through the Health District partners were hard to come across, with the earliest slots going into next week. Walgreens, for example, would not let appointments be booked.
Testing remains an important component of local efforts to combat the sharp recent surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant, which has strained local hospitals, forced Clark County Schools to call a five-day “pause” in classes and forced some businesses to reduce hours or close because of staff shortages.
And Leguen said the situation is likely to get worse.
“Today we don’t have any indication that we have peaked,” he said.
He reiterated that vaccination remains the best protection against severe illness and death from infection.
The number of vaccinated county residents and those who have received booster shots continues to climb, but “we have not reached a level where we feel comfortable” mitigating the spread of the virus, Leguen said.
The Texas Station site, which opened Wednesday in one of its parking garages, will have the capability of conducting 4,000 coronavirus tests from noon until 8 p.m. It will operate from Wednesday through Sunday until further notice.
Drive-thru testing at Fiesta Henderson opens at 3 p.m. Saturday, and will subsequently operate from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday. It also will have 4,000 tests available each day.
The sites, which will be operated by eTrueNorth, a U.S. Health and Human Services contractor, are scheduled to be open for three weeks, but local officials are in talks with the federal agency to expand it if needed.
Appointments are needed to test at the new additional locations, officials said. To reserve a spot and check on results, visit ineedcovid19test.com or call 800-635-8611.
For free testing at other sites, visit covid.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/testing/ or call 702-759-1354.
“It’s quick and easy,” Kirkpatrick said. “We encourage you to come out, to get your tests and to follow the protocols after that.”
A previous version of this article had incorrect hours of operation for the Texas Station testing site.