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First free drive-thru coronavirus testing site opens in Houston

People who experience symptoms are being tested, with results taking up to 24 hours.

HOUSTON — The first free testing site for COVID-19 opened up Thursday morning in northwest Houston. The testing site had the capability to test 2,000 people. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the site had tested about 180 vehicles, including everyone inside those cars.

The site is located on 510 W. Tidwell Rd.

This test site opened its doors after a measure called the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" was signed into law Wednesday. United Memorial Medical Center then stepped up, eating the cost of the test under the presumption that the federal government will pay them back later.

People are being screened first by emergency personnel wearing protective gear. The testing then happens in the second tent with a nasal swab. 

The results of that testing could take anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. If any test comes back positive, the Harris County health department.

Doctors said everything was running smoothly Thursday. 

People being tested are asked to bring one thing.

“You can have a drivers license a water bill, just something that we can be able to record in the registration. And if there is some kind of birth certificate for the child or anything or school ID,” said congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

One woman who showed up here to be tested was taken inside the hospital. Doctors tell us she is getting the care she needs, but could not say if she had COVID-19.

If you don’t have the symptoms, you will be turned away because they have a limited amount of tests. But if you are tested, you are told to quarantine at home until you get the results.

The testing here will continue Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. They will be closed this weekend but will open up again on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

Get complete coverage of the coronavirus by texting 'FACTS' to 713-526-1111.