A&M-Central Texas donates 110 COVID-19 test kits to Bell County SKIP TO PAGE CONTENT

A&M-Central Texas donates 110 COVID-19 test kits to Bell County

Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen presented 110 COVID-19 testing kits to Bell County Judge and Emergency Management Director David Blackburn earlier this week.

The viral sampling kits were rushed to A&M-Central Texas by the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station. The kits were part of 2,000 test kits issued statewide and assembled from lab supplies usually reserved for pigs, cows and chickens at A&M's four diagnostic labs across the state.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said the veterinary experts who track disease outbreaks in animals were ready to assist with the current human pandemic.

"No one has ever done this before, but tough times call for creative measures," Sharp said.

Dr. Bruce Akey, director of the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, said he sent out a plea for supplies to his labs in Amarillo, Center and Gonzales and they began overnighting the supplies late last week.

"We assembled the supplies into sampling kits here in our College Station lab," Akey said. "We know that the 2,000 we came up with may not seem like much when there are 20-plus million Texans at risk that may need testing, but if you need to be tested and you can't right now because they don't have this kit then it's a pretty big deal to you and your family. So we are doing what we can right now."

The kits consist of a swab, a vial with transport media to preserve the sample in the vial, and a bag. They usually cost about $4 to $5 if you were to order them in bulk before the pandemic swept through the existing stock. Now, these simple supplies are back-ordered for months, crippling efforts to test humans for COVID-19.

"We hope to get these sampling kits in the hospitals or clinics where they are most needed as soon as possible," Akey said. "We are pulling out all the stops."

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