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Concerned former Bexar County DA sees pathway to rapid COVID-19 test proposal at SA Rodeo

A former Bexar County District Attorney said he would not recommend rapid COVID-19 testing for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. Not because it isn't legal.

Legal implications connected to a proposal to have rodeo fans submit rapid coronavirus testing to enter the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo depend on how Bexar Commissioners vote next month.

This week, the county's leadership agreed to consider an additional layer of COVID-19 compliance at this year's rodeo to squash the event's chances of becoming a viral catastrophe.

"Looking at it from the surface, it doesn't seem too shaky," Nico LaHood said.

The former Bexar County District Attorney gave county commissioners and Bexar County leaders legal advice. Now, LaHood is in private practice.

He said, legally, the proposal is reasonable as a condition of entry into the rodeo.

"Think about what a ticket is," he said. "A ticket is a contract or a license."

Rodeo officials said fans must tickets or credentials to enter--which implies consent.

"I think there's a good case to be made that if you have the rapid test offering as a condition of coming in, it's reasonable," LaHood said. "If you tell me, it's mandatory, and they force it on you, then we've got a problem."

LaHood said his most significant concern for commissioners would be the financial and logistical considerations. The weight of both would garner his disapproval.

"Who pays for it? How do you test thousands of people," he said.

The rodeo said they've added extra safety levels to put on the scaled-down event, including a system that reduces microorganisms in the air. But they did not see a financial path to rapid coronavirus tests and awarding money to their youth.

County commissioners said they would look in their budget for the funding.

In Austin, the University of Texas started large scale COVID-19 tests for their athletic events for football season.  3,000 student 'Big Ticket' holders took coronavirus tests the day before the game.  Students needed a negative result to pick up their tickets the next day.

The rodeo expects 3,800-4,000 people each day for more than two weeks.

LaHood said commissioners have a lot to consider, even down to what happens if a person tests positive at the gate.

"Are they going to reimburse you the money? Are they going to give you a credit," he said. "That's a contract issue."

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