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COVID-19 testing to double in Houston, Harris County

Leaders said in order to get a better sense of COVID-19’s community spread, more testing needs to be readily available.

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston and Harris County leaders say widespread testing is needed to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced local government testing sites will ramp up the number of people they see.

“The federal government has now approved for our facilities to do up to 500 tests per site per day,” Hidalgo said.

She said the change would double the current 250 tests performed at each site every day.

However, in order to get a better sense of COVID-19’s community spread more testing needs to be readily available.

It includes reaching underserved communities like Sunnyside and East End.

Hidalgo said, “If we don’t have enough testing to where anybody with symptoms can go get tested, get a result back quickly, isolate themselves and anyone they’ve come into contact with and everybody else can go on with their lives, we’re going to be right back where we were three weeks ago.”

It doesn’t stop there.

Before city and county leaders can begin to think about lifting stay home orders the region must get past the virus’ peak.

Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department said, “But because this virus spreads in people who don’t even have symptoms, all the more important that we identify folks who may be spreading without knowing and get an idea of how far spread it is within the community.”

To achieve this, Hidalgo said real-time tests are crucial because they provide fast results, but they are not being used much outside of the private sector.

Once that happens, health leaders believe they’ll gain the upper hand in battle against coronavirus.

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