State officials announced this week a pilot rapid-testing program for COVID-19 that’s rolling out to eight school districts and accepting applications for more.

A collaborative effort of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the federal government, the program is to provide rapid antigen tests for students, teachers and staff who decide to participate, along with the personal protective equipment needed to conduct those tests. Typically, results for these kinds of tests are available within 15 minutes.

“As more students return to campus for in-person instruction, the State of Texas is working alongside school officials to provide resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff,” Abbott said in a statement. “This rapid testing pilot program will be an effective strategy to protect the health and safety of students and staff while helping to further ensure that Texas students have access to a quality education throughout the pandemic and beyond.”

Initial participants include the Bob Hope School in Port Arthur, Fabens ISD in El Paso County, Grace Community School in Tyler, Granger ISD in Williamson County, Lampasas ISD in Lampasas County, Longview ISD in Gregg County, Harlingen Consolidated ISD in Cameron County and Ysleta ISD in El Paso County.

Other schools, both public and private, are free to apply for participation in the program through TEA until the deadline, Oct. 28.

Meanwhile, Brazoria County reported two new deaths in Thursday’s COVID-19 case statistics. They were men in their 80s — one from Lake Jackson, one from Richwood. In all, there were 38 new cases reported, 36 recoveries and one probable. That brings the county totals to 10,903 cases, 10,119 recoveries, 15 probable and 148 dead.

Of the new cases reported, one was from an employee at Country Village Care in Angleton. Also, six of the 38 cases were from tests administered more than two weeks ago. Among municipalities, Pearland had the most cases with 13, followed by Alvin with six, Iowa Colony with four, three each for Angleton and Manvel, two each for Freeport and Lake Jackson, and one each for Brazoria, Holiday Lakes, Sweeny and West Columbia.

There were nine cases among people in their 30s, six cases a piece for people aged 10-19 years old and those in their 40s, five for people in their 50s, four for those in their 20s, two each among children nine years old and younger and those in their 60s and 70s. There was one case among people 80 years and older.

According to Brazosport ISD, there are currently nine active COVID cases. Madge Griffith Elementary, Freeport Intermediate and Lake Jackson Intermediate schools each have one student case, while Brazoswood High School has three. There are two staff cases at Lake Jackson Intermediate and one staff case at Lighthouse Learning Center as well.

The new infections announced daily are from tests taken at least several days previously. On average, it takes two to four days for labs to return results, but some tests could take longer before the findings are reported to the county.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Wes Wolfe is a reporter for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0152.

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