Coronavirus In Greater Houston: City Expands Testing To Anyone Who Wants It, Regardless Of Symptoms

As Houston enters its sixth week dealing with the coronavirus, Houston Public Media provides more live updates.Paul DeBenedetto / Matt Harab / Haya Panjwani, HPM Intern | Posted on April 13, 2020, 4:17 PM (Last Updated: April 13, 2020, 5:07 PM)

Coronavirus screening taking place at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on March 10, 2020.

THE LATEST


  • There are now more than 5,000coronavirus cases in the region, in Houston, greater Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Austin County and Waller County.
  • The city has opened drive-through testing sites to anyone, regardless of symptoms. You can call 832-393-4220 for a unique identification number, and directions to a testing site. 

Updated 4:16 p.m. CT Monday

All city-run coronavirus testing sites in Houston will now be open to everyone, regardless of symptoms, as health officials try to get ahead of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, now entering its sixth week in the region.

The city is running two drive-through testing sites, both previously reserved for first responders and people with multiple symptoms of COVID-19.

But easing qualifications to receive a test is crucial, because asymptomatic carriers are just as likely to pass on the virus as symptomatic carriers, Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department.

“We’ve learned unfortunately that this virus is different in that aspect,” Persse said Monday, at the opening of a new testing site. “Sites like these who are taking asymptomatic, or without any symptoms, have given us incites that several weeks ago we did not anticipate.”

The new testing site opened at Cullen Middle School in Southeast Houston, an area that health officials consider a “hot spot” for the virus.

The process of receiving testing remains the same, and people looking to get tests were asked to call 832-393-4220 for a unique identification number, and directions to a testing site. 

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is working on accommodating those with disabilities in getting to the sites. 

Mayor Sylvester Turner also responded to suggestions from President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott to potentially lift orders limiting travel and business in Texas and other states, saying the city was listening to the advice of medical professionals, and working to further increase testing. 

“I think we’re all anxious to get to the point where we can ‘reopen,’ whatever that means,” Turner said. “Whenever we get to that point to reopen, it won’t mean that everything just opens up at one time. And as you’ve heard people say, it’s not like you turn on the light, or the switch, and the lights just turn on. Whenever we get to that point, it will be very phased.”

The city on Monday announced 118 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths, bringing the death toll in Houston to 18. All those who died had preexisting conditions, Turner said.

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