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Information on free COVID testing centers to be announced

Jefferson County Commissioners are expected today to announce a joint agreement between the county and Winnie Community Hospital/Riceland Medical Center to provide at least one free COVID testing center for the month of September.

It was announced last week that county officials intended to open a free testing center; however, details were not immediately available.

The concept was first brought forth this month by Commissioner Everette “Bo” Alfred, who said he was hearing from constituents that couldn’t find available testing. While most primary care physicians and pharmacies will provide it; complications such as co-pays, appointments and weekend accessibility have made it difficult for some people to test early enough.

“I’m happy we can have some testing and get some things accomplished,” Alfred told Port Arthur Newsmedia Monday. “There’s quite a bit of individuals coming down with this delta variant. We may be missing people (in case counts) because they can’t afford to get tested.”

The Port Arthur Health Department has maintained a weekly case count of approximately 30-40 on average, while the City of Beaumont has reported — on average — upwards of 100 new cases per day.

In the last two weeks, nearly 60 COVID-related deaths in Jefferson County have been reported.

Jefferson County Public Information Officer Allison Getz said more information will come today regarding the free testing center(s).

“At completion of Commissioner’s Court next Tuesday, the office of emergency management will immediately publish dates, times and locations of testing sites,” Getz said in a written statement last week.

Port Arthur Newsmedia will publish the details as soon as they become available.

Meantime a regional monoclonal antibody infusion treatment center remains open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at 5550 Eastex Freeway in Beaumont. This treatment is for COVID-positive patients that have not reached the severity of needing oxygen or hospitalization. Appointments can be made by calling the hotline at (409) 550-2536.

As of Monday morning, 1,088 doses had been administered, Getz reported.

Officials also announced Monday that a free COVID vaccination clinic would open this week at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose center at Lamar State College Port Arthur, 1800 Lakeshore Drive.

The Port Arthur Health Department will sponsoring the event, which will run Thursday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Vaccines and boosters will be available for those 12 and older. Appointments are not needed.