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Fort Bend County opens first free coronavirus testing site

Currently, the site is only accepting healthcare workers, first responders, residents older than 60, and those with certain health problems.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — Editor's Note: Video is from a private testing site ran by The OakBend Medical Group that opened in Fort Bend County a few days prior.

Fort Bend County has open its first county-supported coronavirus testing center and online screening tool through collaborations with AccessHealth and Luminare.

Testing is free to those in need, but they must be pre-approved through an online screening and medical screening beforehand at www.fbchealth.org. After screening is complete, people receive a unique testing code that will be required at the testing site. 

The testing site will operate as long as there are supplies readily available, county officials said.

For now, the county is focusing its efforts on those at higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.

Here's a list of who can be tested:

  • Healthcare professionals
  • First responders
  • People aged 60 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • People with other high-risk conditions such as but not limited to:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease, pregnant women.

Fort Bend County residents may choose any of the sites for screening, as Harris County and Houston sites are still open to Fort Bend County residents.

The OakBend Medical Group opened a privately-ran coronavirus testing site March 26 in Fort Bend County. It also required testers to pass a health pre-screening.Testing is not free, but the expense is covered by some health insurance providers.

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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.  Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

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 for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

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.
  • Follow social distancing

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.

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