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Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference following a roundtable discussion he attended with medical professionals at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Abbott met with medical professionals to discuss upcoming concerns about the continued spread of COVID-19 as flu season approaches. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News)(Lynda M. Gonzalez / Staff Photographer)

12.7.20 – Dallas Morning News – By John Gravois

Governor’s office says the effort may be ramped up significantly across the state.

Workers at small businesses in five Texas communities will have the chance to participate in a COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program, Gov. Greg Abbott’s office announced Monday.

The pilot program, which officials plan to significantly expand across the state, will be administered with help from chambers of commerce in the communities — Amarillo, Edinburg, El Paso, Laredo and Lubbock. Also helping run the program is the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

“This rapid testing pilot program will protect the safety of small business owners, their employees, and Texas consumers as we continue to combat COVID-19,” Abbott said in a prepared statement. “This effective strategy will help us detect and mitigate this virus while ensuring that Texas remains safely open for business.”

Small businesses that want to participate are asked to contact their local chamber of commerce for additional information.

Abbott is one of three Republican governors scheduled to attend a White House COVID-19 vaccine summit Tuesday, along with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana also is expected to attend the summit.