Demand at UTRGV testing sites triples

EDINBURG — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is reporting that demand for COVID-19 testing at its sites has tripled since last week amid a dramatic increase of coronavirus cases in the region.

According to a news release from the university, the call center that schedules appointments is averaging more than 6,000 calls a day and about 1,000 online forms daily.

The release says that the university has responded with more staff at the call center and more staff at the drive-thru test sites.

“We are again adding temporary and permanent staff at the call center, to increase throughput and improve response time. Our employees in the Patient Communications Center are graciously working late nights and weekends to meet the needs of our Valley community,” Michael A. Patriarca, senior associate vice president for health affairs with the School of Medicine, wrote in the statement.

According to Patriarca, the drive-thrus have doubled the amount of patients they process in response to the demand.

“Each drive-thru can accommodate at least 80 patients per day now, and our Edinburg drive-thru is at more than 200 per day, which is more than double our capacity last week, before infections surged,” he wrote.

The increase in the number of calls also means that capacity at the university’s four drive-thru testing sites has had to be increased, so UT Health RGV has been working rapidly to add providers and clinical staff.

According to the statement, more than 18,775 tests had been processed by the UT Health RGV Clinical Laboratory as of June 18, accounting for samples collected from the university’s four testing sites and samples its processing for the state.

“Our clinical providers and staff are mobilizing to meet this increasing demand. They are on the front lines every day, dealing with the South Texas summer heat, so we must think about their safety, as well. Our goal is to continue to increase testing capacity further over the next couple of weeks across all our drive-thru locations,” Patriarca wrote.

The statement advises anyone who cannot get through to the call center to submit an online form at