A Texas Tycoon Throws Millions at the Covid-19 Testing Puzzle

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By Rob Copeland | Photographs by Christopher Lee for The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 23, 2020 12:25 pm ET

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas—A hotly debated attempt to solve America’s coronavirus testing shortage began with a sick, frustrated billionaire at home in a leafy Texas Hill Country town north of San Antonio.

Graham Weston, co-founder of cloud-computing company Rackspace Hosting Inc., owns a pair of homes in New Braunfels. When the pandemic hit in March, he flew his son back from studying in the U.K. and quarantined him in a spare riverside ranch house.

It didn’t work. Though Mr. Weston’s son showed no symptoms, he was carrying the virus; he gave it to his father at the airport pickup, the family suspects. Mr. Weston fell so ill he thought he would die.

Since then, he has been on a crusade to persuade high-level politicians, teachers and fellow business leaders that the key to reopening schools and the economy is to test people who don’t appear to be sick.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, except the needle is a match,” Mr. Weston says.

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By Rob Copeland | Photographs by Christopher Lee for The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 23, 2020 12:25 pm ET

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas—A hotly debated attempt to solve America’s coronavirus testing shortage began with a sick, frustrated billionaire at home in a leafy Texas Hill Country town north of San Antonio.

Graham Weston, co-founder of cloud-computing company Rackspace Hosting Inc., owns a pair of homes in New Braunfels. When the pandemic hit in March, he flew his son back from studying in the U.K. and quarantined him in a spare riverside ranch house.

It didn’t work. Though Mr. Weston’s son showed no symptoms, he was carrying the virus; he gave it to his father at the airport pickup, the family suspects. Mr. Weston fell so ill he thought he would die.

Since then, he has been on a crusade to persuade high-level politicians, teachers and fellow business leaders that the key to reopening schools and the economy is to test people who don’t appear to be sick.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, except the needle is a match,” Mr. Weston says.

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