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Public Health Authority: Well over 150 PUIs awaiting COVID-19 test results in Texarkana area


TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – There were no new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the Texarkana area, but there are more than 100 people in the area who are waiting on tests results to come back, according to the local public health authority.

“There’s still a number of tests still out there, Persons Under Investigation, what we call PUIs,” Local Health Authority Dr. Matthew Young said at a joint operations center briefing Tuesday morning. “And so there is well over 150 of those cases that we’re watching and waiting and see if those tests come back and making sure that they’re quarantined.”

In addition to the nine cases in Bowie County and two in Miller County, two contract workers who were in the area a few weeks ago and had contact with some citizens have also since tested positive since returning to their homes in Georgia and Dallas, according to Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell.

Judge Howell also confirmed that two employees at LaSalle Corrections that manage the Bowie County Jail tested positive over the weekend.

“We’ve gone from three last Friday when I issued the mandatory shelter in place order for Bowie County to nine as of yesterday afternoon,” said Howell. “But I want to remind everyone that, because we have minimal testing availability, there are more positive cases in our area but they have not been identified because of the lack of what I consider to be sufficient testing.”

Howell noted that the Bowie-Miller joint emergency operations center was opened on March 16 following Gov. Gregg Abbott’s emergency disaster declaration.

“The very first day we opened, we had our first positive case in Bowie County and soon found out that our state health officials were overwhelmed with the volume of cases in our region.”

That’s why Local Health Authority Dr. Matthew Young says local officials are working on a local testing site.

“They are working on a testing site on the Arkansas side and I think that will be through a private lab. So at the current time, I don’t know the actual site where that will go to, but the whole idea is to get those back sooner than the department of healths on either the Texas side or the Arkansas side.”

“The only way to get ahead of this thing is to identify the people who have tested positive, trace back their activities and find out who else they’ve come in contact with and who else might have been exposed so that those people can quarantine themselves and we can try to slow the spread of the virus because of that,” Howell said.

RELATED: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Texarkana area

As of Monday afternoon, there were 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Texarkana area, with nine in Bowie County, Texas and two in Cass County. Miller County has one confirmed case. One of those who tested positive in Bowie County has since died.

RELATED: Bowie County woman dies from coronavirus, 3rd East Texas fatality

Interactive: Positive Cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas

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