KILLEEN, Texas – COVID-19 cases are spiking in Central Texas, along with an increase in hospital capacity.
Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra issued a Disaster Declaration for Public Health Thursday as an effort to promote health and suppress the virus.
“My thing, always as mayor, is this – try to get as many people vaccinated as possible. And hopefully, we’ll be able to do that,” Segarra said.
Leaders held the first dual testing and vaccination drive-thru clinic at the Killeen Special Events Center on Thursday. The Killeen Emergency Services, Texas Divisions of Emergency Services, and the Texas Military Department partnered together to make this happen.
Emergency Management Services Coordinator Peter Perez says 90 percent of people in the hospitals with COVID are not vaccinated.
“Something that Bell County Public Health hears a lot from the community is that it is difficult to find a place that doesn’t charge for a test,” Perez said. “We were obviously seeing a large overflow in a lot of our local hospital emergency rooms of people who were just seeking a test.”
Perez says this drive-thru will provide people in the community who don’t have a primary care provider a place to get free testing and Pfizer vaccines.
Killen Fire Chief Jim Kubinski says these efforts will be long-term in order to keep the message of health moving forward.
“Part of the reason for this site is also to keep those people who just want to know if they are positive or not. To help keep from the spread,” Kubinski said. “To be able to come here and not have to overwhelm the ERs for COVID tests, as well.”
Kubinski says the booster shot is also available in a small amount to people who are immunocompromised, and have received the first two Pfizer shots.
“We want to help increase that vaccination rate. We want to encourage all the people that have not been vaccinated to come out and get their vaccine,” Segarra said.
As the local state of emergency is in effect, leaders are encouraging people to follow CDC guidelines – wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.
The drive-thru will be held each Thursday through Saturday until August 28. No appointment is required.