Gov. Greg Abbott, state health officials give update on state’s testing capabilities for COVID-19

AUSTIN – Gov. Gregg Abbott and officials with the Department of State Health Services discussed the state’s testing capabilities for the new coronavirus Thursday.

Abbott listed the Texas cities who now have the capability to test for COID-19:

  • Lubbock
  • Fort Worth
  • Pl Paso
  • Dallas
  • Austin
  • Houston
  • Tyler
  • San Antonio
  • Corpus Christi
  • Harlingen

All tests include nasal or oral swab to the patient and the specimens are shipped to the nearest public health lab through the state. Currently, the six public health labs actively ready to perform COVID-19 tests include Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth and Lubbock. The remaining four labs in the network will be equipped with testing capabilities by the end of the month, according to a press release.

The Houston Health Department laboratory announced Wednesday that it will now conduct COVID-19 testing for cases that meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testing criteria.

Results from specimens collected by medical providers from suspected cases are expected to arrive in Houston for testing within 24 hours.

Currently, the Houston Health Department lab has one testing kit with the capacity to test approximately 350 patients. If a test comes back positive, that test would be sent to the CDC lab for further confirmation, but local testing is considered actionable.

The CDC said it will send more testing kits if needed.

Abbott said having these public health labs in the state will shorten the time for test results and help officials take appropriate measures to protect the public.

“The state of Texas continues to build on our existing capabilities to protect public health and safeguard our communities against the coronavirus,” Abbott said. “With six of Texas’ public health labs now equipped to test for the coronavirus, and the remaining four soon to follow, our state is better positioned to confront and mitigate any potential spread of this virus. The risk to Texans remains low, and I ask that communities across the state continue to heed the guidance of local, state, and federal health officials.”

He said the risk to Texans remains low.

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