Jefferson Co. re-launches free COVID testing

Representatives from multiple Southeast Texas counties announce the opening of a drive-thru testing unit for COVID-19 at Jack Brooks Regional Airport Monday. Photo taken Monday, March 23, 2020 Kim Brent/The Enterprise

Jefferson County again will sponsor a free COVID-19 testing site for the month of September.

The mobile unit, which was approved by the commissioners court on Tuesday, is a joint venture with Riceland Medical Center and Winnie Community Hospital.

It will run until September 30, 2021 and is one of several recent measures taken to alleviate the burden on an overwhelmed and overtaxed local healthcare system.

“About a week and a half ago, we received notice that a lot of the pharmacies that were doing testing and the general practitioners were running out of test kits,” said Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick. “We received notice that the general practitioners and nurse practitioners were overwhelmed with testing — the hospitals were overwhelmed with testing. The hospitals are spending three shifts per day of nurses doing testing that could be involved in patient care. So, we’re trying to fill that gap right now.”

The mobile unit will rotate to different sites within the county.

Dr. Praphul Joshi, lead COVID-19 investigator for Jefferson County, said it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find free testing. That’s compared to the beginning of the pandemic, when the Jack Brooks Regional Airport was used as a free testing site in addition to two or three other sites.

But the funding for free testing dried up.

“The CARES Act funding reimbursed testing sites for people who don’t have insurance,” said Beaumont Public Health Director Kenneth Coleman. “Now a lot of that funding has gone away. So, the sites that were providing free testing are no longer providing it.”

The move to increase testing opportunities also comes as Hurricane Ida’s wrath in Louisiana has driven a number of the region’s residents to shelter in Southeast Texas.More Information

Testing Dates & Sites for Jefferson County


7 a.m. to noon; Labelle, 22044 Burrell Wingate Rd

1 to 7 p.m.; Bevil Oaks, 13550 River Oaks Blvd.


7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Beaumont, 700 Crockett St.


7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Port Arthur, Bob Bowers Civic Center


7 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Groves, 6150 39th St.

2 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Hamshire, Hamshire Community Center


7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Port Arthur, Bob Bowers Civic Center

Sept. 8

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Beaumont, 700 Crockett St.

Sept. 9

7 a.m. to noon; Labelle, 22044 Burrell Wingate Rd

1 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Port Neches, 1005 Merriman St.SEE MORE

“With the hurricane, we have a lot of evacuees in the area,” Joshi said. “Definitely, there’ll be more need for testing. Free testing will minimize the burden and will encourage people to go get tested.”

The testing will kick off from 7 a.m. to noon Wednesday in Labelle at 22044 Burrell Wingate Rd.

From 1 to 7 p.m., it will be in Bevil Oaks at 13550 River Oaks Blvd. The unit’s schedule will be posted weekly.

“The availability of free testing from the county, I think, will be very helpful for the community,” Joshi said.

Written by Rachel Kersey

Categories: Health

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