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Horseshoe Bay Fire Chief Brent Batla

Horseshoe Bay Fire Chief Brent Batla is ready to offer COVID-19 tests from the Central Fire Station. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The city of Horseshoe Bay announced it will offer free COVID-19 tests that deliver results in 15 minutes. Testing is 9-11 a.m. Fridays starting Dec. 4 at the Central Fire Station, 1 Community Drive. Appointments are required. 

All tests are reserved for Dec. 4, but appointments for Dec. 11 can be made by contacting covid@hillcountrydirectcare.com or 325-216-9641, according to Horseshoe Bay Fire Chief Brent Batla. 

Retired Horseshoe Bay nurses who’ve received training from Llano County Local Health Authority Dr. Jack Franklin will administer the tests, Batla said.

“It’s not the nasal swabs that poke your brain,” he said. “They’ll swab the front (in)side of the nose.”

After the test is complete, people will be asked to park and wait for the results. Those who need to leave can give a phone number.

If an individual tests positive, they will be interviewed on the spot so volunteers can begin tracing their steps to reach people and places that person has come in contact with over the past two days, said Llano County Emergency Management coordinator Gilbert Bennett. 

Batla pointed out this could help slow the spread of the virus.

“The benefit (of the rapid tests) to our community is it doesn’t take us a week to get a positive result from the state,” he said. “So, we can immediately start contact tracing. After a week, (a person who tests positive has) no idea how many people they’ve been in contact with. This testing we can do helps us so much with the contact tracing that it was worth getting it done ourselves.”

Bennett, who has been a paramedic for 31 years, noted that people testing positive should isolate for two weeks and let others know not to visit. He suggests having a red warning sign posted on their front door reading the home has a COVID-19 patient inside. 

He also recommends these steps for care:

  • Monitor the patient’s symptoms.
  • Treat symptoms, including headache, fever, coughing, and sneezing.
  • Stay hydrated; drink plenty of water.
  • Call a doctor with any questions about COVID-19.
  • The patient and all caregivers should protect themselves by wearing masks, washing hands, and disinfecting surfaces throughout the day.

“Wear a mask and stop the spread,” Bennett added, which applies to everyone, not just those with the disease.

jfierro@thepicayune.com